Statewatch Viewpoint: The law in times of exception (pdf) by Jaume Asens and Bernat Salellas (Originally published in El Diario):
"The rule of law means putting limits ‘from below’ and from outside upon the power of the state. In a strict conception of the democratic principle, the law cannot be a mechanism for covering up abuses of power, but a brake upon them or their primary antidote."
ECHR: Court: Lithuania and Romania complicity in CIA secret rendition led to multiple human rights violations
"Multiple human rights violations by authorities in Lithuania and Romania resulted from the countries’ involvement with the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s secret rendition of suspected terrorists."
"Big Brother" interoperability: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) (LIMITE doc no: 9074-18. 24 May 2018, 69 pages, pdf): The Council discussing its negotiation position: 31 Footnotes including Member States positions:
"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 18 May 2018, as well as on delegations' written comments."
EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Directive on the interoperability of electronic road toll systems and facilitating crossborder exchange of information on the failure to pay road fees in the Union (recast) (Text with EEA relevance) - General approach (doc no 8856-REV-1-18, 88 pages, pdf):
"The main objective of the proposal is to facilitate electronic systems for the collection of road tolls that would be widely interoperable in the Union.(...)
The Commission identifies administrative barriers, including local technical specifications, wide compulsory geographic coverage and compulsory satellite-based services for light-duty vehicles as the main sources for issues in the current legislative situation;
Furthermore, the Commission proposes to establish a system for the exchange of information between Member States to identify drivers that do not pay their road tolls." [emphasis added]
Greece: Plans for more camps on Lesvos after riots (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Despite vehement local opposition, the government is planning to create new reception facilities for migrants and refugees on Lesvos after rioting at the severely overcrowded Moria camp on Friday prompted hundreds of Kurdish migrants to abandon the premises.
It is not the first time that riots have shaken the Moria camp, where, until last week, some 7,300 people were residing in a facility designed to host a maximum of 3,000.(...)
In a letter to Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas, Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos described the government’s plans to set up new reception facilities as a unilateral action that is in direct contravention of the will of the local community."
EU: European Data Protection Supervisor: EDPS calls for workable technology which serves the interests of society (Press release, pdf):
"Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: “With the GDPR now fully applicable, our preliminary Opinion looks to build upon and encourage the discussion between policy makers, regulators, industry, academia and civil society on how new technologies can be designed to benefit the individual and society. Technology should serve the interests of those who use it. We should therefore develop and encourage a common approach to technological development aimed at ensuring that technology cannot be exploited to serve the interests of only a select few companies, nor used to create a surveillance state.”
And see Opinion (pdf)
Amnesty International: France: Pensioner facing jail term for showing compassion to children (link):
"Ahead of the resumption of the trial of Martine Landry, a 73-year-old woman who faces up to five years in prison and a fine of €30,000 for helping two 15-year-old asylum seekers in France, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Migration, Maria Serrano, said:
“Dragging a compassionate pensioner before the court on these surreal charges makes a mockery of justice. Acts of solidarity should be promoted, not punished.”
"A revised draft bill published by the Hungarian government on May 29, 2018, would criminalize efforts to help migrants and asylum seekers and curb their access to protection, Human Rights Watch said today.
The bill the government presented to parliament proposes amending nine existing laws related to asylum, the national border, and the police. It creates a new criminal offense in the Criminal Code of “enabling illegal immigration,” which is defined to include helping asylum seekers who are “not eligible for protection,” as well as to include border monitoring, producing and disseminating information, or “network building.” If committed “regularly,” or with the aim of “help[ing] several persons,” the offense would be considered aggravated. Anyone convicted would face a sentence of up to a year in prison."
BREXIT: France trying to block UK access to crucial EU crime and anti-terror database after Brexit (Daily Express, link):
"FRANCE is trying to block the UK’s access to a crucial criminal DNA database after Brexit which helped authorities identify the terrorists responsible for the Paris 2015 attack.(...)
British ministers have said there is a “clear national interest” in the UK keeping access to the Prum Convention.
The system allows countries to share information such as DNA, fingerprints, and vehicle registration details in the pursuit of criminals.
But according to one government figure, France is being “awkward” in the negotiations."
EU: European External Action Service: Local EU Statement on the release of Mr Andargachew Tsege (pdf):
"The European Union Delegation issues the following statement in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Ethiopia:
"The EU welcomes the pardon and release of UK citizen Andargachew Tsege, as well as the dropping of charges against ESAT, OMN, Berhanu Nega and Jawar Mohammed on May 29th. Taken together with the release of other activists, journalists and leaders of the opposition in the past weeks, and the initiation of a dialogue with Oromo Democratic Front (ODF), this signals the willingness of the new Government to address the grievances expressed by the population including demands to open up political space in Ethiopia."
And see: Free Andy Tsege (link)
Community Leader Targeted in Chios Trial Acquitted on all Charges - Moria10 Defendants Acquited on All Charges! (Lersbos Legal Centre, link):
"In a case that never should have gone to trial, the #Moria10 trial ended with a verdict of not guilty! The verdict was unanimously reached by the Mixed Jury Court in Chios after even the prosecution’s witnesses testified that one defendant was a community leader who tried to peacefully solve problems in Moria Camp. The prosecutor also recommended acquittal after none of the State’s witnesses could credibly identify the three defendants who were on trial. Only three of the ten accused were tried today, as the other seven were never arrested. Two were present for the trial, the third was tried in absentia."
- 26 countries, 400 million people and 50 000 kilometres of external borders
- Parliament condemns the continuation of internal border checks in the Schengen area
- Joint actions required to bring back the benefits it provides to citizens
EU member states should “foster mutual trust in the functioning of the Schengen area, cooperation and solidarity”, MEPs say on Wednesday."
EU: MEPs hope to break deadlock on migration reform (euractiv, link):
"Reaching a common EU response to the long-running migration crisis has been painfully slow. Ministers remain deadlocked on plans to reform the so-called Dublin Regulation that sets out the EU’s common migration and asylum rules.
Italian MEP Elly Schlein, the negotiator on Dublin for the centre-left Socialist and Democrat group, described this impasse as “shameful”.
“They have had the proposal from the European Commission for over two years. Instead, they are focused only on externalising borders,” by cutting deals with the likes of Libya and Turkey, she told EURACTIV."
GDPR Explained (link):
"GDPR explained. What’s the GDPR? What does the new regulation mean for you as an individual? What does it mean for you as a company or organisation? Read our FAQs to find out more, or send us a question and we’ll try and answer it here!"
INTERPOL information database inquiries jump 200 percent (Homeland Preparedness News, link):
"Use of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) global databases has been on the rise in recent years amid growing threats of terrorist attacks in Europe, with inquiries to stolen and lost travel documents data increasing by more than 200 percent since 2014.
Delegates recently met at the 48th INTERPOL European Regional Conference in Dublin. Drug trafficking, online child sexual abuse, organized crime, and cybercrime were all addressed the three-day event that drew 130 senior law enforcement officers from 52 countries.
INTERPOL Secretary-General Jürgen Stock noted during the event that law enforcement agencies must adapt and evolve, particularly in the realm of data protection and information sharing. "
UK: Birmingham man fails to overturn gang injunction (BBC News, link):
"Gang injunctions that can ban individuals from towns and cities do not breach European human rights laws, a court has ruled.
Appeal court judges made the ruling after a challenge by a 21-year-old who was made the subject of a Birmingham City Council banning order.
Jerome Jones was one of 18 men to be hit last year with what was described as the largest ever gang injunction.
Backing the orders, judges said gang behaviour was not to be underestimated."
See the ruling: Jones v Birmingham City Council ( EWCA Civ 1189, pdf)
"BUDAPEST, Hungary — At the end of World War II, there were seven border walls or fences in the world. By the time the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, there were 15, according to Elisabeth Vallet, a geography professor at the University of Quebec-Montreal.
Today, as President Trump pushes his campaign promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico, there are at least 77 walls or fences around the world — many erected after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon.
"Walls are public relations exercises where governments demonstrate that they are actually doing something," Vallet said. "They usually create more problems.""
EU: Copyright Directive: EU Member States agree on monitoring & filtering of internet uploads (EDRi, link):
"On 25 May, the European Council agreed to a negotiating position on the draft copyright directive. This will allow the presidency of the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament on mass monitoring and filtering of internet uploads and a chaotic new “ancillary copyright” measure that will make it harder to link to and quote news sources.
Despite a large number of demands from a wide range of different stakeholders (including EDRi and Copyright for Creativity) to keep working on the text in order to create some semblance of balance, the Council decided to finalise its position with a flawed text."
Two new European Parliament studies examine "Italy's external border management, through the lens of counter-terrorism" and the "cost of non-Europe" in counter-terrorism, which argues that "further EU action in the area is imperative".
"On the day that GDPR comes into force, PI has launched a campaign investigating a range of data companies that make up a largely hidden data ecosystem. This hidden data ecosystem is comprised of thousands of non-consumer facing data companies - such as Acxiom, Criteo, Quantcast - that amass and exploit large amounts of personal data. Using the rights and obligations provided for within the new data privacy law, PI's campaign involves investigating a selection of these companies whose business models raise questions under GDPR."
GERMANY: From DNA Tracing to DNA Phenotyping – Open Legal Issues and Risks in the new Bavarian Police Task Act (PAG) and beyond (Verfassungsblog, link):
"Is Germany facing a tidal shift in police powers? Does the border between the prosecution of criminal offences and the prevention of looming dangers, which has so far been regarded as self-evident and constitutionally necessary, fall? Will people who are suspected of maybe committing crimes in the future only on the basis of statistical data or non-individualized investigative approaches be preventively restricted in their fundamental rights and even imprisoned in the long term? Is Germany on the way to comprehensive predictive policing, for which considerable risks of discrimination will be accepted? These questions arise from the critics of the draft act on police tasks, which the Bavarian state government intends to pass this week. Beside drones and online seizure one of the crucial investigative issues is the so called “DNA phenotyping”."
The UK implemented the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive in time for the 25 May deadline - but only through a "breach of convention" by the Home Office in its transposition of the measures.
"IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 30,300 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through the first 147 days of 2018, with about 40 per cent arriving in Italy, 35 per cent in Greece, with the remainder (25%) arriving in Spain.
This compares with 69,219 arrivals across the region through the same period last year and about 198,346 at this time in 2016.
In other words: Mediterranean arrivals at this point in 2018 are running at under half last year’s level on this date, and less than 15 per cent of 2016’s volume at this point in the year.
Also worth noting: in the month of May, arrivals to Italy rank second – trailing Spain and slightly ahead of Greece"
EU-TURKEY DEAL: When Greek judges decide whether Turkey is a Safe Third Country without caring too much for EU law (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy, link):
"A few days after the two-year anniversary of the EU-Turkey statement, almost 1,500 people have been returned to Turkey on this basis. Although most returnees originate from countries other than Syria, the legal precedent for returns of Syrians from Greece to Turkey has been established. On 22 September, the Supreme Administrative Court of Greece decided (dec n° 2347/2017 and 2348/2017, available only in Greek) that Turkey qualifies as a safe third country for two Syrians. This conclusion comforts the EU-Turkey statement concluded in March 2016 on the presumption that Turkey qualifies as a safe third country to which asylum seekers can be returned and enjoy adequate protection in accordance with the Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol. Numerous controversial discussions regarding the statement arose, on the one hand, over its nature, and on the other, on the question whether Turkey qualifies as a safe third country. So far, policy-makers are satisfied as the arriving migratory flows have significantly decreased, whereas the CJEU deems itself to lack jurisdiction to rule on the legality of the agreement by risking to contradict its historical case law on the external competences of the EU. The present analysis will focus on the safe third country notion, as interpreted through the Greek judges’ lens."
UK unlawfully copying data from EU police system (EUobserver, link):
"The United Kingdom has been illegally copying classified personal information from a database reserved for members of the passport-free Schengen travel zone.
It has shared the information with US companies and it is demanding to keep access to the database after it leaves the EU next year.
An internal EU document, seen by EUobserver, listed years of violations by British authorities following restricted access to the Schengen Information System (SIS), an EU-run database used by police to track down undocumented migrants, missing people, stolen property, or suspected criminals."
UK: Taser training for 500 officers will start at the end of May (The Edinburgh Reporter, link):
"The training of around 500 Specially Trained Officers (STOs) in the use of Conducted Energy Devices (Taser) will begin at the end of May 2018, with the first officers expected to return to their local communities in early June 2018.
Police Scotland announced plans in December 2017 to train additional officers who will be equipped with Taser in a move to improve the safety of the public and police officers, following an increase in the number of incidents in which officers have been confronted by people with bladed weapons and an increase in assaults on officers.
Once trained, the STOs will be equipped with the Taser X2 and will be deployed across communities throughout Scotland, in both urban and rural areas.
The total number of STOs will equate to just under 3% of the force establishment and brings Police Scotland into line with forces throughout the UK."
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council 4-5 June, Luxembourg: Background Note (pdf)
Council of the European Union: "Safe countries" concept
The Council is discussing its "safe countries concept" which includes: safe third country, the first country of asylum and safe country of origin.
"As regards Turkey, the Commission proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation sets out that the legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including ratification of all major international human rights treaties. Turkey has been designated as a candidate country by the European Council and negotiations have been opened."
See: Reform of the Common European Asylum System - The safe countries concept = Policy debate (LIMITE doc no: 8735-18, pdf)
Fortress Europe lives on in Poland (euractiv, link):
"Since 2015, Poland has strongly opposed receiving refugees from Italy and Greece. Until now, not a single person has been accepted under the quota system set by the European Commission. And the majority of Poles actually side with their government on the issue, EURACTIV Poland reports."
Council of the European Union: Asylum Procedures Regulation: Documentation
Six documents including Reform of the Common European Asylum System - Building blocks within different legislative files of the CEAS Reform (LIMITE doc no: 8816-18, 14 May 2018, pdf) which sets out new grounds for rejecting asylum applications:
"One of the purposes of the asylum reform is to discourage abuses and prevent secondary movements of applicants within the EU, in particular by including clear obligations for applicants to apply in the Member State of first entry and remain in the Member State determined as responsible for the examination of their application. This also requires proportionate procedural and material consequences in case of non-compliance with their obligations." [emphasis added]
Andargachew Tsige pardoned by Ethiopia (Al Jazeera, link):
"Ethiopia has pardoned an opposition leader with British citizenship who had been sentenced to death.
Andargachew Tsige was found guilty of "terrorism" and sentenced in absentia in 2009 over his role in the opposition group Ginbot 7. He was the organisation's secretary-general.
The father of three was arrested during a stopover at a Yemen airport in June 2014 and taken to Ethiopia."
And see: Free Andy Tsege (link)
EU: Austrian Presidency reveals iconoclastic plans to beef up EU’s external borders (euractiv, link):
"In interviews with two major European newspapers, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz lifted the veil on the plans of his country’s EU presidency, which starts on 1 July. Unsurprisingly, the main highlight is to fortify the EU’s external borders.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Kurz described Brexit as “a terrible decision” and suggested the EU’s migration issues were a “main reason” for the vote.
“The closing of the Western Balkan route was successful and we did not have the support of Germany, France or bigger countries in the EU,” Kurz added."
Council of the European Union: European Criminal Records System (ECRIS) - Third Country Nationals
• Proposal for a Regulation establishing a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) and amending Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011 - Note with questions (LIMITE doc 8984-18, 18 May 2018, pdf):
"Delegations will find an updated four column table in 8983/18. All texts in blue have provisionally been agreed upon in the technical meeting, following 'green light' in the Working Party. It is assumed that Member States are still happy with these texts, so that they can be turned green at the next trilogue, which is foreseen for 6 June.
See: 8983-18 (LIMITE doc, 127 pages, 18 May 2018, pdf): Multicolumn document: State of play.
• Selected issues (LIMITE do no 8767-18, 14 May 2018, pdf):
"While substantial progress has been made in order to reach an agreement, one issue – regarding dual nationals – continues to pose a problem in the negotiations. (...) The European Parliament is strongly opposed to including in the central system identity information of EU-nationals who also have the nationality of a third country ("dual nationals")."
• 8767-ADD 1 (LIMITE doc, 16 May 2018, pdf):
"Further to informal contacts with the European Parliament, and in relation with question 3 in 8767/18, the Presidency invites Member States to reflect on the following compromise solution for the issue of "dual nationals": (...) While dual nationals will, for the time being, not be included in the ECRIS-TCN system, the Commission will be asked to carry out a study on the advisability of inclusion of dual nationals in the ECRIS-TCN system in the future."
• 8670-18: Note with questions (LIMITE doc, 8 May 2018, pdf)
• 8669-18 (LIMITE doc, 8 May 2018, pdf): Previous 4-column document
Council of the European Union: Common European Asylum System: DUBLIN IV
• Proposal for a Regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 9047-18, pdf). Council Presidency seeking to deal with divisions in the Council:
"Following concerns raised by some delegations in Coreper, the Presidency proposed to replace the reversed qualified majority by reinforced qualified majority.
This option was presented to the JHA Counsellors held on 18th of May 2018. While many delegations supported this, others continued raising concerns and suggested as an alternative that this second layer of decision making be entrusted to the European Council. Moving the issue to the European Council risks, however, delaying delivering the support foreseen for the second sub-phase of the challenging circumstances."
Note: "Reinforced qualified majority": "When the Council acts without a Commission proposal or one from the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (i.e. in the fields of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters), the qualified majority must include at least two-thirds of EU countries."
• Proposal for a Regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection by a third-country national or a stateless person registered in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast) (8895-18, 108 pages 17 May 2018, pdf): "the Presidency compromise suggestions on the above proposal."
And see: 8591-REV-1 (LIMITE, 97 pages, 14 May 2018, pdf)
Negotiations on the post-Cotonou Agreement stumble on migration (euractiv, link):
"Due to a lack of consensus on the issue of migration, member states cannot come to an agreement on a mandate to begin negotiations on the future partnership agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, EURACTIV.fr reports.
The disagreement among member states on the issue of migration in the future partnership agreement could postpone the start of negotiations, originally scheduled for 1 June."
Are You Syrious (26.5.18, link):
"AYS reported about the fight among Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans and Syrians Kurds in Moria with the consequence of hundreds of people leaving the camp, seeking refugee at Pikpa, Kara Tepe and at the football stadium.
On Saturday evening, 368 people were hosted by Humans 4 Humanity, while more than 300 (including residents) found a safe place in Pikpa, among them injured people, children and pregnant women."
And see: Six people injured in clashes in Moria migrant camp on Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link)
UK: Screwed by the system (IRR News, link):
"Lord Herman Ouseley writes for IRR News on the findings of a recent Amnesty International report on the Gangs Matrix.
By October 2017, there were 3,806 individuals on the Gangs Matrix, 87 per cent of whom were Black, Asian and of a minority ethnic background, 78 per cent of whom were black. Amnesty International spent the past year researching this Matrix and found that the database was compiled based on a vague and ill-defined concept of what is a gang. Forty per cent of those on the list had no record of being involved in any violent offence in the previous two years and 35 per cent never had a serious offence attached to their name."
BREXIT: UK position papers: Technical Note: Security, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice (pdf): See slide show at Footnote 3:
"The UK therefore considers that while existing precedents for EU cooperation with third countries in relation to individual measures in this field provide context, they are not the right starting point for our future partnership.(....)
The UK has proposed a new UK-EU Internal Security Treaty to provide a legal basis for future cooperation relating to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters on the basis of existing EU police and criminal justice measures."
EU: INTEROPERABILITY: "Big Brother" database: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) and amending Council Decision 2004/512/EC, Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, Council Decision 2008/633/JHA, Regulation (EU) 2016/399 and Regulation (EU) 2017/2226 (LIMITE doc no: 8621-18, 8 May 2018, 69 pages, pdf): Council working on its negotiation position. 32 Footnotes with Member State positions:
"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 DAPIX: interoperability of EU information systems on 17-18 April and 2 May 2018, as well as on delegations' written comments. Changes to the Commission proposal are marked in bold italics and strikethrough."
New changes to the Commission proposal compared to ST 7651/18 are marked in bold italics underline and strikethrough underline.
See: 7651-18 (LIMITE doc 13 April 2018, pdf)
EU-GERMANY: Germany's immigration offices lack technology to scan and compare asylum-seekers' fingerprints (Deutsche Welle, link):
"Officials at immigration and welfare offices attempting to identify asylum-seekers face serious difficulty ensuring people are not taking advantage of German social services, according to reports in Die Welt and the Nürnberger Nachrichten newspapers on Thursday.
A lack of fingerprint scanners at 200 of Germany's 494 immigration offices and all social service offices mean officials cannot use fingerprints to confirm people are not using multiple identities to apply for social benefits, the papers said, citing information from the Interior Ministry.
The immigration offices would receive the devices by September while job centers and other social service offices would be equipped with fingerprint scanners by the end of 2018, the Interior Ministry said."
Asylum Information Database: Country Report: Greece (2017 update, pdf):
"29,718 persons arrived in Greece by sea in 2017, compared to 173,450 sea arrivals in 2016. The majority of those arrived in 2017 originated from Syria (42%), Iraq (20%) and Afghanistan (12%). More than half of the population were women (22%) and children (37%), while 41% were adult men.In addition, a total of 5,651 persons have been arrested at the Greek-Turkish land borders in 2017, compared to 3,300 persons during in 2016.
The Asylum Service registered 58,661 asylum applications in 2017. The number of applications submitted before the Asylum Service rose by 15%. Greece received the 8.5% of the total number of applications submitted in the EU, while it was the country with the highest number of asylum seekers per capita among EU Member States (5,295 first -time applicants per million population). In 2017, Syrians continue to be the largest group of applicants with 16,396 applications. A substantial increase of applications submitted from Turkish nationals was noted in 2017 (1,827 compared to 189 in 2016)."
Council of the EU: Joint EU-U.S. statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting (23 May 2018, pdf):
"The European Union and the United States discussed their shared efforts to combat terrorism, focusing on effective information sharing, preventing radicalization, use of the internet for terrorist purposes, and vigilance with respect to aviation security, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, and explosives, especially in relation to the evolving chemical threats to aviation and in public spaces. With regard to EU-U.S. information sharing on Passenger Name Records (PNR), participants of the meeting emphasized the importance of such sharing, and noted impending developments in the separate EU-Canada PNR discussions. The participants agreed to continue the discussion of PNR, at the next EU-U.S. Ministerial, which will take place in Washington, D.C., in the second half of 2018.
Participants also discussed security and law enforcement cooperation in cyber-space, affirming the importance of allowing swift access to electronic evidence by law enforcement and judicial authorities, while also protecting privacy and civil liberties. Similarly, they stressed the need to maintain a safe, open, and secure cyberspace for the promotion of economic and social development, and exchanged views on how to best address this growing challenge.
The European Union and the United States also exchanged information on developments in the area of migration, border management, and their respective visa policies."
UK: House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: Algorithms in decision-making (pdf):
"Algorithms have long been used to aid decision-making, but in the last few years the growth of ‘big data’ and ‘machine learning’ has driven an increase in algorithmic decision-making—in finance, the legal sector, the criminal justice system, education, and healthcare, as well as recruitment decisions, giving loans or targeting adverts on social media, and there are plans for autonomous vehicles to be on public roads in the UK.
The case for our inquiry was made by Dr Stephanie Mathisen from Sense about Science, who raised the question of “the extent to which algorithms can exacerbate or reduce biases” as well as “the need for decisions made by algorithms to be challenged, understood and regulated”. Such issues echo our predecessor Committee’s concerns during their inquiries into Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. Now, more than two years have elapsed since that Committee called for an oversight body to monitor and address such issues. Our report identifies the themes and challenges that the newly established ‘Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation’ should address as it begins its work.
Our report comes as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes effective and in the wake of the recent controversy centred around the algorithm used by Cambridge Analytica to target political campaign messaging—a test case which reinforces the need for effective data protection regulation."
EU: 'Killer robot' projects eligible for EU defence fund (EUobserver, link):
"The EU will allow companies developing so-called 'lethal autonomous weapons' to apply for EU funding, negotiators from the EU's three institutions decided on Tuesday (22 May) evening.
The European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council of the EU – representing national governments – struck a deal on the specifics of a €500m defence investment programme.
The parliament had originally wanted to bar controversial new weapon types from receiving EU subsidies, but gave up on that in Tuesday's talks in order to strike a compromise, according to two sources who were in the room.
An amendment to the bill, which said weapons of mass destruction, cluster munitions, anti-personnel landmines, and fully autonomous weapons should not be eligible for funding, was scrapped at the request of the council."
And see: Defence firms 'reap benefits' of advice to EU (EUobserver, link)
EU: Google and Facebook accused of breaking GDPR laws (BBC News, link):
"Complaints have been filed against Facebook, Google, Instagram and WhatsApp within hours of the new GDPR data protection law taking effect.
The companies are accused of forcing users to consent to targeted advertising to use the services.
Privacy group noyb.eu led by activist Max Schrems said people were not being given a "free choice".
If the complaints are upheld, the websites may be forced to change how they operate, and they could be fined."
EU-BULGARIA: Interview: The Bulgarian version of GDPR is a threat to the few independent media in Bulgaria (BulgarianPresidency.eu, link):
"In an interview with Bulgarianpresidency.eu lawyer Alexander Kashumov of the Access to Information Program (AIP) warns that the Bulgarian adaptation of the directive poses a huge threat to the independent media in the country.(...)
GDPR enters into force on 25 May, and each country has to adapt its legislation. Bulgaria will adapt its Personal Data Protection Act. The draft was prepared by the Commission for the Protection of Personal Data and launched for public consultation for a period of 18 days, although the usual term is at least a month. The authorities have not realised that GDPR has a huge impact on the companies and the media in the country, and the draft law controversial, to say the least. (...)
Kashumov warns: “In the Bulgarian draft law there are texts that are probably written with good intentions, but they raise concerns that they will have a serious negative effect on the media, and if they are adopted, every journalist will have to make a preliminary assessment by 10 criteria, whether his publications violate the law”."
Gina Haspel Is Only The Start of the Conversation on CIA Torture (one small window, link):
"In 2002, as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme, agent Gina Haspel ran a secret CIA torture prison in Thailand; torture methods at the site included waterboarding, which she oversaw. In 2005, she ordered the destruction of tapes of prisoners being tortured. Rather than face prosecution for crimes against humanity, in February 2017 Donald Trump appointed her deputy director of the CIA.
At a confirmation hearing for her new position as CIA chief in May 2018, Haspel was unapologetic and evasive over questions by the US Senate on torture. Unsurprisingly, her appointment has been controversial. The media has tried to play down her torturer credentials by focusing on her role as the first female CIA director as being some sort of victory for women.
The CIA has a long, solid relationship with torture and human experimentation. Under its latest incarnation in the so-called “war on terror”, prosecutions have been few and far between. Haspel is not the only person to profit from CIA torture: in 2017, private contractor psychologist James Mitchell and a colleague managed to end a court case brought by survivors, through an out-of-court settlement, for their design of the torture programme. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were paid over $80 million to design “enhanced interrogation techniques”. At the very same time, Mitchell was making even more money on the book tour circuit promoting his actions."
Background and documentation: Observatory on the CIA's "rendition" programme
New research shows rise in number of states deploying armed drones (Drone Wars UK, link):
"A new report published by Drone Wars UK reveals that over the last five years the number of countries actively using armed drones has quadrupled. Drone Wars: The Next Generation demonstrates that from just three states (US, UK and Israel) in 2013, there are now a further nine who have deployed armed drones in a variety of roles including for armed conflict and counter-terror operations. The report also shows that a further nine states are very close to having armed drone capabilities, almost doubling the number of existing users. To this number, we have added five non-state actors who have used armed drones, which will take the number of active operators of armed drones to over 25 in the next few years.
A number of studies by think tanks and NGOS over the last few years have shown that military drone technology has spread to over 90 countries, however, the ability to use armed drones has until recently remained in the hands of only a relatively few states. Some media reports, perhaps egged on by special interest groups, can give the impression that the skies are already filled with armed drones from many countries, ready to strike at any moment and so there is little to be done. However, while the numbers of countries operating armed drones is increasing, we are not yet at the point of being unable to control the proliferation and use of these systems."
UK: Still Dying On The Inside: The Case For Ending Imprisonment Of Women (Huffpost, link):
"This month marks ten years since the death of Pauline Campbell. Pauline became a formidable campaigner exposing the harm inflicted on women within the prison system. This followed the death of her 18-year-old daughter in Styal prison in 2003.
It was campaigning by Pauline Campbell, bereaved families and Inquest around the sharp rise in deaths across the women’s estate, and in particular deaths at Styal in the early 2000s, that persuaded the then Labour government to commission Baroness Jean Corston to conduct an independent review of women in the criminal justice system.
Corston’s ground-breaking report, published in March 2007, offered a blueprint for change. The review recommended the dismantling of the women’s prison estate, the introduction of small custodial units and an expansion of gender-specific support in the community, through a network of women’s centres. It was expected that the use of imprisonment for women could be reduced to an ‘absolute minimum’ and was hoped that women’s imprisonment could be almost entirely phased out. At the time there was great optimism that positive change was imminent. "
New report: FinFisher changes tactics to hook critics (Access Now, link):
"It’s been over five years since Citizen Lab first exposed the use of FinFisher surveillance malware to target Bahraini activists. Despite the explosion of security investigations that followed, the use of FinFisher spyware against dissidents has not stopped. In the face of negative attention, public embarrassment, export controls violations, and even legal challenges, the German company is continuing to facilitate the repression of nonviolent activists and political opponents in authoritarian countries such as Turkey. The only difference is that FinFisher has taken steps to ensure these attacks are harder to identify and trace back to the company.
This report provides up-to-date details on how FinFisher’s technology is currently being used against critics and evading scrutiny by security researchers, drawing from two years of observation by technologists at Access Now’s Digital Security Helpline – a 24-7, free of charge resource for civil society across the globe – and external partners. The findings have significant human rights, security, and policy implications."
BREXIT: Life outside the EAW looks ominous for the UK (Modern Diplomacy, link):
"There are many bones of contention tumbling out of the Pandora’s box that is Brexit, but few are quite as concerning as continental security and law enforcement. Both Britain and the EU have come to rely heavily on the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) since it was introduced in 2004; the UK opted back into the EAW in 2014 after a one-year hiatus. Since its inception, the EAW has facilitated the extradition of thousands of criminals between the UK and other EU member states.
Against the backdrop of Brexit, senior figures in Brussels argue that leaving the EU necessarily entails relinquishing participation in the EAW and giving up access to continental databases such as Europol and the Schengen Information System (SIS). This state of affairs has alarmed the British political establishment. As Claude Moraes, the Labour MEP who chairs the European parliament’s justice and home affairs put it on May 10th, there are real concerns that the UK could become a “Costa del Crime.”"
EU-AFRICA: Niger: Europe’s Migration Laboratory (Refugees Deeply, link):
"The [European Union] has pushed for the mainstay of northern Niger’s economy to be criminalized but it remains wary of compensating the individuals and groups it has helped to brand as criminals. There is no precedent for demolishing an informal economy in one of the world’s poorest countries and replacing it with a formal model. Some 60 percent of Niger’s GDP comes from the informal sector, according to the World Bank.
As a senior government adviser put it, “When you slap a child you cannot ask it not to cry.”
According to an E.U. official who followed the program, “the law was imposed in a brutal way, without any prior consultation, in a process where the government of Niger was heavily pressured by the E.U., France and Germany, with a minimal consideration of the fact Nigerien security forces are involved in this traffic [of migrants].”"
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-21.5.18) including: Frontex condemned for fundamental rights failings; Germany to open "mass holding centres" for asylum seekers; new EU proposals on Visa Information System and Immigration Liaison Officers
UK: Hundreds of homeless people fined and imprisoned in England and Wales (The Guardian, link):
"Growing numbers of vulnerable homeless people are being fined, given criminal convictions and even imprisoned for begging and rough sleeping, the Guardian can reveal.
Despite updated Home Office guidance at the start of the year, which instructs councils not to target people for being homeless and sleeping rough, the Guardian has found over 50 local authorities with public space protection orders (PSPOs) in place
Homeless people are banned from town centres, routinely fined hundreds of pounds and sent to prison if caught repeatedly asking for money in some cases. Local authorities in England and Wales have issued hundreds of fixed-penalty notices and pursued criminal convictions for “begging”, “persistent and aggressive begging” and “loitering” since they were given strengthened powers to combat antisocial behaviour in 2014 by then home secretary, Theresa May."
Frontex, the EU's border agency, has been heavily criticised for failing to provide adequate staff and resources to its own Fundamental Rights Office, a problem that "seriously hinders the Agency's ability to deliver on its fundamental rights obligations."
Germany to roll out mass holding centres for asylum seekers (The Guardian, link):
"Mass holding centres that Germany’s interior ministry wants to roll out across the country will stoke social tension between locals and migrants and undermine the welcoming image the country has gained in the eyes of the world, aid organisations have said.
So-called anchor centres – an acronym for arrival, decision, return – are designed to speed up deportations of unsuccessful asylum seekers, by containing large groups of people and the authorities who rule on their claims inside the same holding facility.
Until now, Germany’s policy has been to embed new arrivals in communities across the country. But Angela Merkel’s government is seeking to reverse its strategy, as a populist backlash builds against the chancellor’s handling of the refugee crisis."
And see: German interior minister to keep migrants in asylum centers (Deutsche Welle, link): "Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is pressing ahead with his "masterplan" to speed up deportations of asylum seekers and refugees and streamline asylum procedures."
"The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has directed the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to hold gross misconduct proceedings for the officer who fatally shot Jermaine Baker in north London in December 2015.
This decision follows our investigation into the shooting which found that the officer, known as ‘W80’ for legal reasons, had a case to answer for gross misconduct for using excessive force when he shot Mr Baker.
The decision to direct proceedings was taken after the MPS disagreed with our findings and our subsequent recommendations that proceedings should take place."
PRESS RELEASE Last Rights Project announces the agreement and signing of the Mytilini Declaration (Lesvos, Greece, link) and:
"On the 11 May 2018, following two days of discussions between experts from across the world, the Mytilini Declaration was agreed. We believe this is a landmark in establishing the rights of and duties toward all those who experience suffering because of the death or disappearance of their loved ones as a result of migrant journeys and we now call upon all countries and international bodies to ensure that these rights are respected and that the standards contained in the Declaration are implemented as a matter of urgency."
EU: Court of Auditors says Commission and Member States must improve integration policies: The integration of migrants from outside the EU (pdf):
"This briefing paper is not an audit report. It gathers together information from a wide variety of sources, some of which is already publicly available and some of which we gathered ourselves.
It sets out what the EU is doing to support the integration of people legally living in the EU without EU citizenship ('migrants'). In doing so, we identified a number of key challenges relating to their integration."
Challenges: Reducing delays at the start of the integration process; Guaranteeing equal rights and non-discrimination; Sound and comprehensive assessment of needs and funding; Commitment of Member States to implement the Action Plan; Support all migrants across all relevant policy areas; Effective monitoring of integration outcomes to measure progress and adapt policies if needed; Effective coordination of funding at EU and national level.
Honouring Kamil: Disability and Migration - June 29th 2018 (poster, pdf):
Kamil Ahmad was a Disabled Kurdish man who came to Britain seeking sanctuary, having been imprisoned and tortured in Iraq.
He was murdered in Bristol on 7 July 2016.
There is also a Crowd Funder page, to raise funds to cover costs of the event. Even if you can not attend, please consider sharing this message.
US Senate confirms Haspel as CIA director despite links to torture programme (Middle East Eye, link):
"The US Senate confirmed Gina Haspel on Thursday to be director of the CIA, ending a bruising confirmation fight centred on her ties to the spy agency's past use of torture.
Haspel, who will be the first woman to lead the CIA, is a 33-year veteran at the agency and currently serving as its acting director. The tally was 54-45 in her favour in the 100-member chamber, where a simple majority was required for confirmation.
Haspel was approved in spite of stiff opposition stemming from her links to the CIA's use of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, a type of simulated drowning widely considered to be torture, in the years after the 9/11 attacks.(...)mplemented as a matter of urgency."
UK: Police are using big data to profile young people, putting them at risk of discrimination (The Conversation, link):
"Amnesty International has raised a series of human rights issues in connection with the “gang matrix” developed and run by London’s Metropolitan Police, in a recent report. According to the report, appearing on the database could affect the lives of 3,806 people, 80% of whom are between 12 and 24 years old.
There are no specific details about how the matrix operates and is used by police. It exists, at least in part, to address the difficulties in policing gang activities across different districts. But it’s suspected that – because of government data sharing – appearing on the database will “follow” young people around, affecting their access to housing, education or work."
Interpol’s New Software Will Recognize Criminals by Their Voices (IEEE Spectrum, link):
"A new platform aims to identify offenders by matching voice recordings to speech samples stored in a massive database, raising privacy concerns.
The world’s largest police network is evaluating software that would match samples of speech taken from phone calls or social media posts to voice recordings of criminals stored within a massive database shared by law enforcement agencies.
The platform, as described by developers, would employ several speech analysis algorithms to filter voice samples by gender, age, language, and accent. It will be managed by Interpol at its base in Lyon, France with a goal of increasing the accuracy of voice data, and boosting its reliability and judicial admissibility.
The development team completed successful field tests of the system in March and November 2017. Next up is a project review this June in Brussels."
Jourova to press for EU-US data sharing deal next week (euractiv, link):
"EU justice chief Vera Jourova will push for a new data access agreement with the United States when she meets with her American counterpart next week, amid growing transatlantic tensions over issues including the Iran nuclear agreement and trade.
Jourova said in an interview on Friday (18 May) that she will use “all legal ways of lobbying” to convince US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the US and EU should create an arrangement for law enforcement authorities to demand user data from technology firms if they need information stored in another country to investigate crimes."
"European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly has for only the second time during her mandate sent a Special Report to the European Parliament, on her inquiry to improve the accountability of the Council’s legislative work.
The Ombudsman issued a number of Recommendations to the Council of the EU in February, following a year long inquiry, including that it systematically record Member State positions both in its preparatory meetings and in COREPER (ambassador) meetings; and that it draw up clear and appropriate criteria for the classification of Council documents as the current practice severely limits their timely accessibility.
The Council however failed to respond to the Recommendations by the legal three-month deadline on 9 May, and so given its importance for the democratic legitimacy of the EU, the Ombudsman decided to call now on Parliament’s support.
“Europeans need to know what their national governments are doing in Brussels, especially when making new EU laws which affect their daily lives. Making more information public would also help discourage national ministers from ‘blaming Brussels’ for EU laws they themselves helped to shape and adopt.(...)
The Ombudsman found that the Council’s current practices constitute maladministration. In particular, she criticised the Council’s failure to record systematically the identity of Member States taking positions in preparatory bodies, and the widespread practice of restricting access to legislative documents while the decision-making process is ongoing (the so-called ‘LIMITE’ marking)."
See: Report (pdf)
Some 2,500 children asked for asylum in Greece in 2017 (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Some 2,500 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in Greece last year, around 8 percent of the total 31,400 child refugees who sought asylum in European Union countries in 2017.
Italy received a relatively large chunk of applications for asylum – more than 10,000, or 32 percent of the total – followed by Germany, with 9,100 applications (29 percent)."
Refugees Deeply: When Refugees Lead: A Conversation With Wales’ Refugee Coalition Chair (link):
"As part of our series “When Refugees Lead,” we speak with Rocio Cifuentes, chair of the Welsh Refugee Coalition and director of the Ethnic Youth Support Team, whose family fled dictatorship in Chile when she was an infant."
Italy's populists aim to challenge EU on debt and migrants (BBC News, link):
"Italy's two populist parties will try to reach a deal on forming a government after a leaked draft revealed plans to defy EU rules on migration and debt."
The European Commission has proposed introducing EU-level coordination of the existing network of immigration liaison officers (ILOs), made up of some 500 national officials who work in non-EU countries to gather information and intelligence with the aim of "preventing and combating of illegal immigration, facilitating the return of illegal immigrants and managing legal migration."
The Commission is today reporting on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration and the Commission's roadmap from December 2017, and is setting out further key actions to be taken.
New research by Refugee Action reveals Home Office failings, including long delays and poor decision-making, are having a devastating effect on people seeking safety in Britain.
UK: Conditions at HMP Nottingham 'may have caused suicides' (BBC News, link):
"Inmates may have taken their own lives at Nottingham Prison because they could no longer face life at the "drug-ridden jail", the chief inspector of prisons has said.
In his report, Peter Clarke said the death rate at the prison was "tragic and appalling".
He added that for too long prisoners had been held in a "dangerous" and "disrespectful" environment.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it had made improvements to the prison."
See: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons: Report on an announced inspection of HMP & YOI Nottingham (pdf) and: INQUEST responds to Prison Inspectors report finding ‘tragic and appalling’ levels of self-inflicted deaths and self-harm at Nottingham Prison (INQUEST, link)
UK: Police mishandling digital evidence, forensic experts warn (The Guardian, link):
"Police officers are trampling over vital forensic evidence, are under-trained, and often do not know what they are looking for, MPs investigating digital disclosure problems have been told.
Giving evidence to a justice select committee inquiry into failures to hand over material that have led to multiple court cases collapsing, leading digital forensic experts warned of funding shortfalls and inadequate skills.
“A lot of police stations have [mobile phone extraction kiosks] where they put a mobile phone in and press a couple of buttons, but it’s not enough analysis. A police officer who has been trained for about a day can use the equipment. He can click it in and handle the buttons, [but] often they spoil the evidence by mishandling. It’s like they have trodden on the evidence. Interpretation of data is being carried out by ordinary officers – they are not trained to do it.”"
See: Commons Justice Committee: Disclosure of evidence in criminal cases inquiry (parliament.uk, link)
EU-AFRICA: The new European border between Niger and Libya (Open Migration, link):
"The game for controlling what Marco Minniti defined “the southern border of Europe” to “be sealed” is still open. However, last year’s experience shows that focusing solely on control, while leaving aside the safety and well-being of communities living in northern Niger, especially in Fezzan, might prove counter-productive. For the people living in Fezzan, beaten by the conflict, for migrants, facing increasing risks, and – perhaps – for Europe itself in its attempt to contain migrations.
“We rebelled against Gaddafi but we have obtained nothing,” Joseph Moussa concludes, tens of cigarettes later, in an Agadez falling more silent by the minute. “Migrants are our sole currency: only when we find a new one we will stop transporting them.”"
The Commission is today proposing to upgrade the Visa Information System (VIS), the database containing information on persons applying for Schengen visas, in order to better respond to evolving security and migratory challenges and improve the EU's external border management.
Ireland Says Welcome, in solidarity with refugee, undocumented and asylum seeking women in Ireland, wishes to draw attention to the situation of this group, who are easily forgotten in the upcoming referendum.
Greece changes asylum rules to fight camp overcrowding (ekathimerini, link)
"Greece’s parliament approved legislation Tuesday that is designed to speed up the asylum process for migrants, ease the overcrowding at Greek island refugee camps and to deport more people back to Turkey.
Under the new law, staff will be added at the office that handles asylum requests, the appeals process for rejected applications will be shortened and travel restrictions can be imposed on asylum-seekers who are moved from the Greek islands to the mainland.
Currently, restrictions on asylum-seekers are mostly limited to five islands near the coast of Turkey, where strained refugee camps are trying to cope with up to three times more residents than planned. More than 16,000 people are stuck there.
A group of 13 Greek human rights organizations, however, has accused the government of ignoring refugee rights."
BREXIT: A simple chart from the Commission emphaising "third country" status for the UK: Slide on the EU/UK Possible Framework for the Future Partnership Discussions (15 May 2018, pdf).
EU: UK Select Committee on the European Union: Brexit: Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations (pdf):
"The UK’s departure from the EU places a question mark over its future participation in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations. As an EU Member State, the UK has influenced the development and planning of all missions and operations, and has led the EU’s flagship antipiracy operation, EU NAVFOR Somalia (Operation Atalanta). After Brexit, the
framework for the UK to participate in these missions and operations is unclear, and subject to negotiation.(...)
The Government has set out high-level aspirations for co-operation with the EU on CSDP missions and operations, including involvement in “mandate development and detailed operational planning”. The level of influence the Government seeks goes well beyond the scope of the existing model for third country participation. Prospects for changes to this model are uncertain."
European Parliament Studies: The vulnerability to exploitation of women migrant workers in agriculture in the EU: the need for a Human Rights and Gender based approach (pdf):
"explores the working conditions of migrant women in agriculture in the EU, focusing on some case studies in Italy and Spain. In particular, it aims to examine the factors that render women vulnerable to exploitation, paying attention to gendered dynamics and power relations"
"to examine the current status quo of implementation of the Directive, and to carry out an in-depth review of the practices in selected Member States. The study provides a brief overview of the international framework concerning the term of protection for performers and phonogram producers, and analyses the main objectives and provisions of the Term Extension Directive."
"Human rights, democracy and the rule of law depend on the institutions that give them form. But for populists, who invoke the proclaimed “will of the people”, these institutional checks and balances on power are often seen as an obstacle that should be subverted.
The 5th annual report of the Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, published today, assesses the key building blocks of democratic security across Council of Europe member states: independent judiciaries, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, the functioning of democratic institutions and inclusive societies.
This year the report draws attention to the role of institutions in Europe and to the attempts to undermine them both at the European level and at the level of member states.
“There are new and resurgent challenges to our institutions across the continent to which we must respond”, said the Secretary General."
See: Annual Report (pdf)
Tensions with Turkey increase migration across Greece’s land borders (euractiv, link):
"Refugee flows through Greece’s land borders have started rising again, causing frustration among EU and Greek authorities. According to UNHCR data, in April alone 2,900 people entered Greece via land passages at the borders of Evros River, mainly families from Syria and Iraq.
Press reports say that increased migratory flows across the Evros are the result of the latest tensions in the Greek-Turkish relations."
"Strasbourg, 15.05.2018 – Racist hate speech in public discourse is escalating in Croatia, according to a report published today by the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) (see also the Croatian version of the report).
The main target groups are Serbs, LGBT persons and Roma. The report – which analyses legislative issues, racist and homo-transphobic hate speech, violence and integration policies – notes a rise of nationalism, particularly from youth, which often takes the form of praising the fascist Ustaša regime (*).
The report decries an inadequate response by Croatian authorities to such increasing intolerance, as criminal action is too often ruled out. Most cases of hate speech and hate motivated violence are treated merely as misdemeanours. While the report praises improved legal protection against hate crime through amendments to the Criminal Code – which includes a new provision criminalizing violent conduct in public places – anti-hate crime legislation is rarely applied. The report cites a lack of knowledge and expertise from law enforcement and the judiciary."
UK: Capita staff used ‘excessive’ restraint on asylum seekers (Guardian, link):
"Damning report says staff used unnecessary force on low-risk detainees during removal flight.
Private contractors used excessive restraint on low-risk asylum seekers on a removal flight out of the UK, inspectors have revealed in a damning report.
Escort staff were led to believe by dire warnings during a staff briefing that they were dealing with a high-risk group, when the majority of passengers had no history of being disruptive, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) said in a report."
British spymaster pleads for EU intelligence cooperation (euractiv, link):
"Britain and the European Union must build a close security partnership after Brexit to foil Islamic State militant attacks and counter Russia’s malign attempts to subvert Western democracies, the head of Britain’s domestic spy agency said.
Britain, as Europe’s preeminent intelligence power, is seeking a new security pact with the bloc to ensure it gets continued access to secrets from major EU countries as it seeks to clinch a broader Brexit deal."
See: MI5: Director General Andrew Parker Speech to BfV Symposium (pdf)
"The European Commission has proposed an 89.5 billion-euro fund to battle irregular migration by investing heavily in countries outside the European Union, but its plans raise deep questions about the bloc’s aims.
It is unclear what the extra money could achieve, and the ultimate aims of the policy remain obscure."
Mums and dads of Roma children deprived parent rights (euobserver, link):
"It often comes as a shock for most Europeans when we hear about atrocious human rights violations in the world ranging from the imprisonment of women who have had a miscarriage in El Salvador, to the persecution of entire ethnic groups - such as the Rohingyas in Myanmar. (...)
It is rather shocking really to see how far our decision-makers and duty bearers can go without being held accountable for their open discrimination and violation of basic human rights.
One of the latest, yet decades-old, Europe-wide, known and blatant example is the removal of Roma children from their parents on the basis of the families' social status and poverty, and due to prejudice towards the Roma."
UK: “Dangerous and inaccurate” police facial recognition exposed in new Big Brother Watch report (Press release, link):
"Big Brother Watch’s report, released today, reveals:
• South Wales Police store photos of all innocent people incorrectly matched by facial recognition for a year, without their knowledge, resulting in a biometric database of over 2,400 innocent people
• Home Office spent £2.6m funding South Wales Police’s use of the technology, although it is “almost entirely inaccurate”
• Metropolitan Police’s facial recognition matches are 98% inaccurate, misidentifying 95 people at last year’s Notting Hill Carnival as criminals – yet the force is planning 7 more deployments this year
• South Wales Police’s matches are 91% inaccurate – yet the force plans to target the Biggest Weekend and a Rolling Stones concert next."
See: Zero arrests, 2 correct matches, no criminals: London cops' facial recog tech slammed (The Register, link) and: Facial recognition technology and law enforcement (ICO, link)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-14.5.18) including: Sudan's feared secret police aid European migration policy; the rise of 'hostile environments' for migrants; new report on externalisastion of EU borders
The European Commission has proposed agreements that would let policing agency Europol exchange personal data with eight countries across the Middle East and North Africa - but the political situation and lack of data protection rules in many of them has raised the alarm amongst MEPs and human rights advocates.
SPAIN: Migrants in Spain are dying after losing healthcare access (InfoMigrants, link):
"The mortality rate among undocumented migrants in Spain has risen by 15 percent since reforms denied access to free public healthcare, according to new research.
A public healthcare reform introduced by the Spanish government in 2012, which excluded illegal immigrants from access to public healthcare has caused an average 15 percent increase in the mortality rate among undocumented foreigners in Spain, a new study has said.
The research was jointly carried by the University of Barcelona's Economics Institute and the University Pompeu Fabra's Center for Research in Health and Economics (CRES). The study focused on analyzing any changes in mortality rates in the population residing in Spain between 2009 and 2015 compared to the previous period from 2009 to 2012. The research found that an additional 70 deaths per year were registered among undocumented migrants since the law was approved in 2012. The reforms were introduced by the conservative government led by the Partido Popular."
"The EU has made migration control a central goal of its foreign relations, rapidly expanding border externalisation measures that require neighbouring countries to act as Europe's border guards. This report examines 35 countries, prioritised by the EU, and finds authoritarian regimes emboldened to repress civil society, vulnerable refugees forced to turn to more dangerous and deadly routes, and European arms and security firms booming off the surge in funding for border security systems and technologies."
See: Europe's solution to migration is to outsource it to Africa (EUobserver, link)
EU: Punitive populism: The global rise of ‘hostile environments’ for migrants (Red Pepper, link) by Liz Fekete:
"The parameters of policies aimed at ‘aliens’ are set in the stone of social control. Immigrants can enjoy pathways to citizenship; but aliens, at every identity check or internal control, carry the border within them. Historically, aliens’ laws have reduced residency to a gesture of clemency, a temporary order of hospitality, rescindable at any point. The alternative history has been one of the integration of migrants through immigration policy, whereby they can access social rights, including social care for troubled youngsters at risk of marginality and crime. But now, switching the approach to treat juveniles from a migrant background as aliens ensures that those who ‘fall through the net’ and commit crimes will never be allowed to integrate. Punitive policies aimed at those deemed alien means that resources that were formerly allocated to social care, anti-discrimination and integration can be transferred into immigration enforcement, punishment, warehousing and banishment."
UK: How police manipulated photographs of the suffragettes during vote campaign (The Telegraph, link):
"When the militant campaigner Evelyn Manesta was photographed by police at London’s Holloway Prison a warder had to grip her arms behind her back to stop her struggling and hold her head in an upright position to face the camera.
But when this now rarely seen photograph was distributed the presence of the warder was edited out, leaving the image of Manesta standing on her own.
In what was an early example of image manipulation the forces of law and order simply made themselves invisible, possibly so as not to detract from the effectiveness of the picture in identifying the suffragette."
Council of the EU: EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia: operation to contribute to better information sharing on crime in the Mediterranean (press release, pdf)
"The Council today adopted a decision allowing for the creation of a crime information cell within EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. The information cell will be composed of up to 10 staff members from relevant law enforcement authorities of member states and from the EU agencies FRONTEX and EUROPOL in order to improve information sharing between them.
The cell will be tasked to facilitate the receipt, collection and transmission of information on human smuggling and trafficking, the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya, illegal trafficking, as well as crimes relevant to the security of the operation itself."
See: Documents: Operation Sophia anti-migrant smuggling mission to host "crime information cell" pilot project (Statewatch News Online, 29 November 2017)
UK: Taser use in South Yorkshire soars by nearly 60 per cent (The Star, link):
"The use of Taser stun guns by police in South Yorkshire has soared by nearly 60 per cent, with the weapons deployed more than 450 times last year.
Tasers were used 285 times by the force in 2016, but that number leapt to 454 last year, new figures show, and the devices were used 73 times during January and February this year.
However, on the vast majority of occasions, the weapons were not fired, only being drawn, aimed or partially activated to shine a red dot on the subject."
And see: South Wales police Taser rethink as gang knife threat grows (BBC News, link): "All frontline police officers in south Wales could be armed with Tasers to face the increasing threat of gangs carrying knives."
EU: Courts and Counter-Terrorism (Verfassungsblog, link):
"In the context of counter-terrorism, what is the role and responsibility of courts, and constitutional courts in particular? In many respects, courts are the last line of defence in upholding the rule of law during times when it really matters, when society is put to the test. The Asser Institute’s symposium ‘Courts and Counter-Terrorism’ analyses important judgments and legislative developments in several countries, namely the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Finland, Italy, Turkey, China, France, Germany and Spain."
Orban Vows to Transform Hungary in Push Toward Illiberalism (Bloomberg, link):
"Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his new government would enact “big changes” over the next four years and he saw no need to revisit his controversial break with liberal democracy, which has roiled the ex-communist nation’s relations with the European Union.
The next government will aim to reverse a population decline in the country of 10 million, boost economic competitiveness and “rationalize” a decrepit state healthcare system, Orban told lawmakers after taking the oath of office for a fourth four-year term in Budapest on Thursday. He said that he would work to ensure “freedom” for Hungarians, though a strong government was the priority."
See also: Massive passport fraud in Hungary allowed dozens of people to enter U.S. under false identities, officials say (Washington Post, link)
UK accused of flouting human rights in 'racialised' war on gangs (The Guardian, link):
"The Conservative government triggered a “racialised” war on gangs that has stigmatised black youngsters and left Britain breaking its human rights obligations, Amnesty International has said.
In a report about a police list of gang suspects, called the gangs violence matrix, the human rights group alleged the list violated the human rights of the predominantly black youngsters on it.
The gang violence matrix is used by the Metropolitan police to identify gang members, and the force says it helps to thwart violence. Police in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands are understood to use similar lists. But Amnesty claimed the tactic missed the underlying causes of the rising violence on Britain’s streets."
See: Trapped in the matrix: Secrecy, stigma and bias in the Met's Gangs Database (Amnesty International, link to pdf)
The EU’s refugee crisis: Effective handling or botched up policy? (EurActiv, link):
"Dealing with the refugee crisis has proved to be an insurmountable task for Europe, due to the apparent lack of a coherent immigration policy and political indecisiveness. Europe’s cohesion comes out shaken as a result, EURACTIV.gr reports.
Poor reception infrastructure, and difficulties caused by a bureaucracy unable to meet the basic needs of the refugees have lead to overpopulation – and Aegean islands are a prime example. The direct outcome is an unprecedented emergency situation.
“As long as European countries arbitrarily replace their international obligations with volunteer humanitarian programs and do not establish safe passages to Europe for the people who need them, they still have responsibility for hundreds of dead people in the Mediterranean,” Takou said."
Join us for an afternoon of collective imagining at the TATE Modern, Friday 25 May, 12:00-18:00
How does the creation of a hostile environment towards immigrants challenge the ways we create belonging, build communities and form solidarity? This symposium invites activists, practitioners, artists and academics to address the current hostile environment towards immigrants within and beyond the UK and Europe.
IRELAND: Asylum seekers waiting up to two years for decision, says UN (The Irish Times, link):
"Asylum seekers are being forced to wait an average of two years for a decision on their protection applications despite recommendations that the process be completed within 12 months, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned.
Retired High Court judge Bryan McMahon recommended in June 2015 that newly arrived asylum seekers receive a decision on their application within 12 months and that they be given the right to work after nine months. Nearly three years later, asylum seekers are waiting an average of 19 months for an interview at the Department of Justice, with the final decision likely to result in further delays. "
By Stifling Migration, Sudan’s Feared Secret Police Aid Europe (New York Times, link):
"At Sudan’s eastern border, Lt. Samih Omar led two patrol cars slowly over the rutted desert, past a cow’s carcass, before halting on the unmarked 2,000-mile route that thousands of East Africans follow each year in trying to reach the Mediterranean, and then onward to Europe.
His patrols along this border with Eritrea are helping Sudan crack down on one of the busiest passages on the European migration trail. Yet Lieutenant Omar is no simple border agent. He works for Sudan’s feared secret police, whose leaders are accused of war crimes — and, more recently, whose officers have been accused of torturing migrants.
Indirectly, he is also working for the interests of the European Union.
“Sometimes,” Lieutenant Omar said, “I feel this is Europe’s southern border.”"
"After a two-year battle against five police forces and the regulator dealing with freedom of information, Netpol has secured an important victory for greater transparency of the government’s ‘counter-radicalisation’ strategy, Prevent.
After intervening in a legal action brought by Netpol at the Information Rights Tribunal over the refusal by police forces to publish this material, the Home Office has now been forced to concede that continued secrecy is untenable after tens of thousands of people have taken part in the training.
As a result, the Home Office WRAP ['Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent'] training materials, along with local versions provided to Netpol by Greater Manchester Police and Merseyside Police, are now public documents and available to download"
UK: Does more stop and search mean less crime? (College of Policing, link):
"Stop and search powers are better seen as an investigative tool rather than a crime deterrent, a new study concludes.
Ten years of data from The Metropolitan Police was examined to see if stop and search had a deterrent effect on crime in London.
The study, which was a collaborative piece of work between University of Manchester and University of Oxford, found that higher rates of stop and search were occasionally followed by slightly lower rates of crime.
However, the associations found were inconsistent and small in size, which provided limited evidence of stop and search having acted as a deterrent at a borough level."
"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 DAPIX: interoperability of EU information systems on 17-18 April and 2 May 2018, as well as on delegations' written comments."
See: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) (8621/18, LIMITE, 8 May 2018, pdf)
MALTA: PNR: Malta to share air passenger information (Times of Malta, link):
"The House of Representatives on Wednesday gave a second reading to a bill for the transposition into Maltese law of an EU directive to centralise passenger records across European airports.
It also started to debate a Bill to repeal and replace Malta’s current data protection law with a new act, in line with the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation.
Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia explained how the Passenger Name Record (Data) Act would be transposing an EU directive introduced in the wake of heightened security within the European Union. The new law would provide for the transfer by air carriers of passenger data from flights originating within and outside the EU, in a broad set of cases related to the aims of the EU directive.
Opposition MP Godfrey Farrugia (PD) however, [questioned] whether the data gathered would be used towards political ends and calling for the supervisory authority which would be responsible for overseeing the NPIU [National Passenger Information Unit] to be established in a different Ministry than the NPIU itself."
UK: Government forced to stop making NHS give patient data to immigration officials for minor infractions (The Independent, link):
"The government has been forced into a climbdown over its use of NHS patient information for tracing minor immigration infractions, conceding the bar for breaching patient confidentiality “should be significantly higher”.
After years of pressure from doctors, MPs and charities, the government pledged to only seek patient data – which is handed to the Home Office by NHS Digital on request – in the event of serious crimes.
The concession comes after weeks of damaging revelations about the harm caused by Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policy towards immigration offenders."
In a statement on "threats to international peace and security", the Polish Presidency of the UN Security Council "recalls its noted concern about the close connection between international terrorism and transnational organized crime" and calls on all UN Member States "to enhance cooperation and strategies to prevent terrorists from benefiting from transnational organized crime," including by "securing their borders" and "strengthening of national, regional, and global systems to collect, analyse and exchange information, including law enforcement and intelligence information."
The British Government has today apologised to Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar for the UK’s role in their 2004 abduction, torture, and rendition to Libya.
The apology, delivered today in Parliament by the Attorney General Jeremy Wright, comes in a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May to the family. It follows a mediation with the Government and a personal meeting between the Attorney General and the couple, in which they described their ordeal to him.
"The hearing by Scotland's Justice Sub-Committee on Policing on 10 May is the first time Parliamentarians anywhere in the UK have held the police to account in relation to key issues around use of this technology including the absence of policy, failure to conduct Human Rights, Equality and Data Protection Impact Assessments and the deeply concerning fact that many individuals will be unaware that data is being extracted from their phones.
MSPs representing constituents from Edinburgh, where one of the trials took place, raised concerns that they were surprised at the lack of impact assessments, failure to consult with MSPs and absence of public awareness efforts prior to trials that resulted in over 600 phones being examined. Questioned whether advice was given to owners of a devices before extractions took place, DS Burnett of Police Scotland admitted it was not."
EXCLUSIVE: Niger sends Sudanese refugees back to Libya (IRIN, link):
"Niger has deported at least 132 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers back to Libya, drawing criticism that it is flouting international law by sending them back to dangerous and inhumane conditions from which they recently escaped.
The deportation, the first of asylum seekers from Niger’s migrant hub of Agadez, was confirmed by a high-ranking UN refugee agency (UNHCR) official, and later by an informed source in the Nigerien interior ministry who insisted those sent back were “criminals” fighting for militias in southern Libya. UNHCR put the number at 135, but the interior ministry said three people had escaped.
UNHCR said those deported were part of a group of around 160 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers arrested in Agadez on 2 May. The majority fled to Niger to escape harsh conditions and treatment in Libya and were receiving assistance from UNHCR."
The European Commission has published proposals for the EU's budget for 2021-27, with significant increases foreseen in spending on internal security - with a proposal for a 180% boost compared to the 2014-20 period - and on migration and border management, with a 280% increase.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-9.5.18) including: NGOs demand Hungary withdraw proposed laws restricting civil society; complaint brought to ECHR on Libya-Italy coordination; 26 of Moria 35 still detained, seven face deportation
SPAIN: Basque separatist group ETA announces full dissolution (CNN, link):
"ETA, the Basque separatist group that killed around 850 people during its half-century campaign for independence from Spain, announced its full dissolution, Spanish media reported.
The declaration was made in a letter dated April 16 and sent to a number of political institutions, Spanish news agency EFE reported. The announcement had been expected, and came just over a year after the group handed over its weapons, following a 2011 ceasefire.
ETA, which stands for "Euskadi Ta Askatasuna" or "Basque homeland and freedom," was founded in 1959 in response to the frustration felt by Basques during the repressive regime of General Francisco Franco. Its aim was to gain independence from Spain and establish a state in the north of Spain and southwest France."
And see: Eta: Disbandment won't change our policy says Spain's Rajoy (BBC News, link): "Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says there will be no impunity for Eta, despite the separatist group's announcement that it is disbanding. "
"The new Hungarian parliament which will first assemble on 8 May is set to vote on draconian and regressive legislation which could arbitrarily restrict fundamental rights and freedoms of civil society. The proposed laws would further undermine and stigmatise organisations working to defend the human rights of migrants and refugees.
The treatment of our Hungarian members and partners and the laws being introduced to stifle civil society are deeply concerning. These will significantly limit their ability to carry out work independently, could ultimately lead to their closure and be damaging to the human rights of migrants and refugees. Such measures that penalise solidarity and support to migrants including asylum seekers and refugees should not be tolerated."
EU: Eurojust Annual Report 2017 (link to pdf):
"- The number of cases for which Member States requested Eurojust’s assistance increased by 10.6 per cent, from 2 306 in 2016 to 2 550. Third States were involved in 258 cases.
- Eurojust organised 302 coordination meetings, a 25 per cent increase over 2016. Third States were involved in 61 and Europol in 108 coordination meetings.
- Eurojust organised 17 coordination centres with the participation of third States in 5 and Europol in 7 coordination centres.
- Eurojust supported 200 JITs, a 35 per cent increase over 2016, 87 of which were newly established, with an increased involvement of third States in 21 JITs, 11 of which were newly established. JITs increased in terrorism cases, as well as in fraud and THB cases."
Including policy recommendations on: interoperability, counter-radicalisation, foreign terrorist fighters ("incl. women and children"), terrorist travel, law enforcement-intelligence agency cooperation, links between terrorism and organised crime, "tackling terrorist content online".
UK: Student accused of being a terrorist for reading book on terrorism (The Guardian, link):
"A postgraduate student of counter-terrorism was falsely accused of being a terrorist after an official at Staffordshire University had spotted him reading a textbook entitled Terrorism Studies in the college library.
Mohammed Umar Farooq, who was enrolled in the terrorism, crime and global security master’s programme, told the Guardian that he was questioned about attitudes to homosexuality, Islamic State (Isis) and al-Qaida.
His replies, Farooq said, were largely academic but he stressed his personal opposition to extremist views. However, the conversation in the library was reported by the official to security guards, because it had raised “too many red flags”."
EU: Court of Justice: Requests for family reunification must be examined even if the national of a non-EU country, who is a family member of an EU citizen who has never exercised his right of freedom of movement, is subject to an entry ban (press release, pdf):
"Whether there is a relationship of dependency between the national of a non-EU country and the EU citizen and whether public policy grounds justify the entry ban must be assessed on a case-by-case basis"
See: Judgment (Case C-82/16, pdf)
Mare Clausum: The Sea Watch vs Libyan Coast Guard Case: 6 November 2017 (Forensic Architecture, link):
"On 6 November 2017, the rescue NGO Sea Watch (SW) and a patrol vessel of the Libyan Coast Guard (LYCG) simultaneously directed themselves towards a migrants’ boat in distress in international waters. The boat, which had departed from Tripoli a few hours earlier, carried between 130 and 150 passengers. A confrontational rescue operation ensued, and while SW was eventually able to rescue and bring to safety in Italy 59 passengers, at least 20 people died before or during these events, while 47 passengers were ultimately pulled back to Libya, where several faced grave human rights violations – including being detained, beaten, and sold to an other captor who tortured them to extract ransom from their families. The unfolding of this incident has been reconstructed in a video by Forensic Oceanography in collaboration with Forensic Architecture.
To reconstruct the circumstances of this particular incident, however, Forensic Oceanography has produced a detailed written report which argues it is also necessary to understand the policies that shaped the behaviour of the actors involved, and the patterns of practices of which this event was only a particular instantiation."
See the report: Forensic Oceanography: Mare Clausum: Italy and the EU's undeclared operation to stem migration across the Mediterranean (link to pdf) and: Legal action against Italy over its coordination of Libyan Coast Guard pull-backs resulting in migrant deaths and abuse
GERMANY-LIBYA: Exclusive: Internal diplomatic report on "concentration camp-like" conditions in Libyan refugee camps (FragDenStaat, link):
"The EU is cooperating ever more closely with Libyan militias to prevent people from fleeing to Europe. A wire report published by the German Federal Foreign Office after our Freedom of Information request shows the conditions under which refugees have to live in Libya.
Seven years after the death of dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, Libya is once again an important partner of the European Union. Although the country continues to be marked by internal power struggles, the EU's cooperation with the North African state is becoming ever closer. Italy, for example, recently decided to connect Libya to the Italian Navy's communication system.
Apparently, the European Union's asylum policy leads to refugees being deported to Libya in violation of international law. The German TV magazine Monitor, for example, states that "Libyan militias apparently have no inhibitions whatsoever to sacrifice human lives when it comes only to enforcing the European policy of isolation"."
Two new studies undertaken for the European Parliament's Special Commitee on Terrorism (TERR) examine 'EU Civil Protection Responding to CBRN Incidents and Attacks' and 'Member States' Preparedness for CBRN Threats'.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is part of our daily lives. This technology shapes how people access information, interact with devices, share personal information, and even understand foreign languages. It also transforms how individuals and groups can be tracked and identified, and dramatically alters what kinds of information can be gleaned about people from their data.
AI has the potential to revolutionise societies in positive ways. However, as with any scientific or technological advancement, there is a real risk that the use of new tools by states or corporations will have a negative impact on human rights.
GERMANY: Security guard violence in the AEO Bamberg – state-sanctioned criminalisation and persecution of refugees (Culture of Deportation, link):
"The AEO Bamberg, a large reception and deportation camp in the state of Upper Franconia, Bavaria, is Germany’s flagship for refugee isolation. It faces now a scandal of systematic violence by private security guards against asylum seekers. We demand a thorough investigation to all the incidents.
We were alerted to these in the course of the ongoing support campaign for Kumba and Dia. The two Senegalese asylum seekers were criminalised after having witnessed an attack by the guards on a third West African asylum seeker in the AEO in early September 2017. A number of former security employees and numerous inhabitants informed us that this is not the sole case: The scale of security guard violence against refugees in the AEO has been systematic since the summer of 2017. According to the inhabitants, the violence has somewhat gone down since the fall of 2017, but continues. The latest incident was on May 7 as a Nigerian couple were badly abused by the guards."
Seven of the #Moria35 face deportation on Thursday 10 May 2018. In a process fraught with procedural violations, they have had their applications for asylum rejected. After over a year of dehumanizing treatment, from Moria Camp, to the vicious attack by the police, followed by nine months of unjust imprisonment, they now face being sent to Turkish prison, and likely deportation to the countries they fled.
A "non-paper" issued by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU is seeking Member States' views on a number of issues related to interoperability, including proposals from national authorities for "substantial changes" to the Entry/Exit System which "may lead to significant delay in the start of operation of the system" and "higher complexity and cost for development," but with "no guarantee that they will deliver the desired result/effect."
Seventeen survivors of a fatal incident in which a boat carrying migrants found itself in distress off the coast of Libya filed an application against Italy today with the European Court of Human Rights. The applicants included the surviving parents of two children who died in the incident.
GREECE: Rescuers from Denmark and Spain cleared of human trafficking by Greek court (The Local, link):
" A Greek court on Monday cleared three Spaniards and two Danes of trying to help illegal migrants enter Greece through the island of Lesbos while taking part in Aegean rescue missions.
"The accusation has not been proven," the judge said after the trial in the Lesbos capital Mytilene.
The firefighters from Spain and volunteers from Denmark, who faced up to 10 years in prison according to Amnesty International, enjoyed massive support from aid groups, with many sympathisers on hand for the verdict.
"A great victory for humanitarian aid," Spanish group Proem-AID tweeted after the ruling."
HUNGARY: Desperate times call for new measures (Migszol, link):
"Ever since Migszol began in 2012, we have based our work on information from the ground, on the situation at the borders, and testimonies of people from different camps. This has always provided the basis and the legitimacy to our activism.
But over the years things changed radically. Gradually the detention of practically all asylum seekers was implemented, while at the same time the space for civil society and independent media has become extremely narrow.
In the current situation, we find that we, unfortunately, cannot function the way we used to. We have no way of being in touch with detained asylum seekers, and even if we did, we would risk becoming targets of state-sponsored hate campaigns, also we would risk their personal safety during the asylum procedure."
"As the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, visits Lesvos, Greece for a regional conference, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warns that the situation on Lesvos is, once again, reaching breaking point. As a result of the Greek government’s continued policy of containing migrants and refugees on the Greek islands at any cost, thousands of men, women and children in Lesvos are living in squalid, overcrowded conditions, with insufficient access to health care. With around 500 new people reaching Lesvos every week, the overcrowding, as well as increased demand for healthcare and other services, are pushing the camp to breaking point. MSF is calling on the Greek authorities to immediately transfer people from Lesvos to the mainland, and in addition, immediately scale up the provision of healthcare on the island.
In the government-run camp of Moria there are currently more than 7,000 people in a camp that was built for a maximum of 2,500 people. The living conditions and the reduction in the provision of medical care represent a high risk to the health and lives of the people trapped on the island."
Global military spending remains high at $1.7 trillion (SIPRI, link):
"(Stockholm, 2 May 2018) Total world military expenditure rose to $1739 billion in 2017, a marginal increase of 1.1 per cent in real terms from 2016, according to new figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). China’s military expenditure rose again in 2017, continuing an upward trend in spending that has lasted for more than two decades. Russia’s military spending fell for the first time since 1998, while spending by the United States remained constant for the second successive year. The comprehensive annual update of the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database is accessible from today at www.sipri.org."
UK: The Home Office’s dirty secret: a whole new generation of Windrushers (The Guardian, link) by Sonia Sodha:
"The new home secretary, Sajid Javid, has wasted no time in disowning the phrase “hostile environment”. But the real test he faces isn’t one of superficial terminology. First, there is the question of whether he will do anything to dismantle the day-to-day reality of prejudice that ensnared the Windrush generation with such appalling consequences; whether he will concede that obliging landlords to check people’s papers under the threat of fines or imprisonment drags us backwards to a world where people with dark skin routinely face discrimination; or that cutting off access to housing and work risks forcing people into exploitation on the black market.
But there’s another dirty secret buried in the Home Office. The government’s futile, arbitrary target to reduce net immigration to the tens of thousands means it is not just imposing further restrictions on who can come to the UK from abroad (no matter that the NHS is desperate for doctors). It is making it harder for people here legally, including those who’ve grown up here, to become permanently settled."
"The Libyan coastguard on Sunday prevented a rescue ship belonging to two NGOs from approaching a boat in distress carrying migrants, an AFP photographer witnessed.
The Aquarius, chartered by SOS-Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was informed by the Italian coastguard of the presence of an overloaded boat off the coast of Tripoli, reported the photographer on board the NGO boat.
But Rome also alerted the Libyan coastguard which took charge of coordinating the rescue operation and banned the NGO ship from approaching, also ordering it to move away when migrants jumped into the water to avoid being picked up by the Libyans.
The Libyan navy later announced it had rescued more than 300 migrants in three separate operations, reporting one dead and three missing.
The two victims were with 114 other migrants including 21 women and four children, said a Libyan navy spokesman, General Ayoub Kacem, although he declined to say whether they had been aboard the boat seen by the Aquarius.
And he warned that tensions between the Libyan coastguard and the NGO boats could worsen over coming days if they continued to approach stricken boats."
SCOTLAND: Sheku Bayoh: Family sue Police Scotland's chief constable (BBC News, link):
"The family of a man who died after being restrained by police nearly three years ago are suing the chief constable of Police Scotland.
A lawyer for relatives of Sheku Bayou said they were seeking £2m from Iain Livingstone.
Sheku Bayoh, 31, lost consciousness after being restrained by officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in May 2015.
Solicitor Aamer Anwar said the family believed his death was unlawful and Police Scotland was responsible.
The civil action will be raised against Acting Chief Constable Iain Livingstone shortly before three-year "time bar" laws come into force on Thursday, exactly three years since the death."
And see: Eyewitness in Sheku Bayoh death in custody case hasn’t been spoken to by police in three years (Daily Record, link)
IRELAND: Public services card: Minister insists no biometrics collected in card technology upgrade (The Irish Times, link):
"An upgrade in facial mapping software for the Department of Social Protection will not involve biometric data or retinal eye scans, the Dáil has been told, even though it is specifically mentioned in tender documents.
Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty said the new software would not use advanced facial mapping cameras when taking photographs for registration or replacement of a public services card.
But an “important byproduct” of the update would be to detect any potential instances of identity theft or suspected social welfare fraud, she said.
To date, 3.2 million public services cards, which the department requires for access to social welfare benefits, have been issued."
EU: New Europol chief criticised: Europe’s terror defenses pass to Belgian hands (Politico, link):
"Catherine De Bolle, new Europol chief, was in charge during Paris and Brussels attacks. And that’s the problem.
The first woman to run the EU’s law enforcement agency comes into the job with a lot of doubts to overcome.
The biggest: Her previous job.
Catherine De Bolle, who took over as head of Europol on Tuesday, was Belgium’s top cop during the terror attacks in Paris in 2015 that were partly planned in Brussels, and four months later when the same group struck the EU capital itself. Both of these exposed shortcomings in her country’s policing."
And see: Inside the Google of Counter-Terrorism: Once snubbed by the FBI, Europol emerges as a force (Bloomberg, link)
After Viktor Orban’s Victory, Hungary’s Judges Start to Tumble (New York Times, link):
"Less than four weeks ago, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary won re-election after promising to seek “moral, political and legal amends” from his opponents.
Four days later, something strange started to happen in the Hungarian court system. A flurry of judges began resigning in quick succession from the National Judicial Council, the main bulwark against executive interference in the judiciary.
Mr. Orban’s party maintains there is nothing untoward about the departures. But his critics fear that the judges are resigning under pressure from allies of a newly emboldened Orban administration with the intent of further bringing the judiciary to heel."
"A police force has defended its use of facial recognition technology after it was revealed that more than 2,000 people in Cardiff during the 2017 Champions League final were wrongly identified as potential criminals... 2,470 potential matches were identified.
However, according to data on the force’s website, 92% (2,297) of those were found to be “false positives”.
"The fifth Ministerial Conference of the Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development ended Wednesday in Marrakech, with the adoption of the Marrakech Declaration and Plan of Action.
The Marrakech Declaration "constitutes a new brick in the edifice that we have been building together for twelve years and which has enabled Euro-African migration to be taken off the list of problems to be resolved and placed in the register of the main themes of our dialogue and cooperation", said minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, in his closing remarks."
See: Rabat Process: Marrakesh Political Declaration and Action Plan (pdf) based on five "domains": Development benefits of migration and addressing root causes of irregular migration and the phenomenon of displaced persons; Legal migration and mobility; Protection and asylum; Domain 4: Prevention of and fight against irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings; Return, readmission and reintegration.
The Displaced; Migrant Brothers; Lights in the Distance – reviews (The Guardian, link):
"Three powerful, conscience-stirring books [The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives Edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen; Migrant Brothers: A Poet’s Declaration of Human Dignity by Patrick Chamoiseau; Lights in the Distance: Exile and Refuge at the Borders of Europe by Daniel Trilling] use personal testimony to help us see the refugee crisis through the eyes of its victims"
Former spycop guilty of gross misconduct; judicial review launched against Crown Prosecution Service; whistleblower abandons inquiry; analysis of names released so far; inquiry considers anonymity for NPOIU officers.
In view of the industrial quantities of ammunition used by the GMs [Gardes Mobiles] in recent days [during the expulsion operations at the ZAD in north-western France] and the hundreds of injuries that have been reported by the ZAD medical team, it is always good to know more about these military weapons.
New Statewatch Analysis: The “point of no return”: Interoperability morphs into the creation of a Big Brother centralised EU state database including all existing and future Justice and Home Affairs databases (pdf) by Tony Bunyan:
This Analysis looks at key critiques of EU plans to create a pervasive EU state database covering existing and future Justice and Home Affairs databases.
What started out as creating “interconnectivity” between EU JHA databases was quickly rejected by the High Level Group of Experts in favour of “interoperability” which in turns has morphed at the hands of the Council and the Commission into the creation of a centralised EU state database covering all JHA databases.
Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) and amending Regulation (EU No 1077/2011 - Updated four column table (LIMITE doc no: 8258-18, pdf):
"Please find attached an updated four column table as it results from the third trilogue on 24 April and technical meetings on 24 and 26 April 2018."
"Organizations Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) and Are You Syrious (AYS) are hereby informing you about a series of pressures of the police and the Ministry of Interior on our work regarding human rights protection of refugees and migrants in the Republic of Croatia.(...)
In the last several weeks, we have noticed and experienced extremely dubious and illogical actions of the police towards our associations and attorneys with whom we are cooperating related to the case of the Hussiny family whose 6 year-old daughter died on 21 November 2017 from the hit of a train on the railway between Tovarnik and Šid, immediately after the illegal expulsion of the family from the Republic of Croatia, according to the family."
Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 as regards the rules applicable to the temporary reintroduction of border control at internal borders (LIMITE doc no: 8210-18, pdf): The Council working out its negotiating position:
""1. Where, in the area without internal border control, a Member State establishes that there is a serious threat to public policy or internal security in for its territory (...) that Member State may exceptionally reintroduce border control at all or specific parts of its internal borders for a l[[mited period of up to 30 days, or for the foreseeable duration of the serious threat if its duration exceeds 30 days, but not exceeding six months]. [text in brackets delete]
"scope and duration of the temporary reintroduction of border control at internal borders shall not exceed what is strictly necessary to respond to the serious threat. "
CJEU: Perverse Opinion by Advocate General on access to metadata in less "serious" crimes: Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe proposes that the Court should find that even criminal offences that are not particularly serious may justify disclosure of basic electronic communications metadata provided such disclosure does not seriously undermine the right to privacy (pdf):
"According to the Advocate General, it is only where the interference suffered is particularly serious that the offences capable of justifying such interference must themselves be particularly serious. On the other hand, where the interference is not serious (that is, when the data the disclosure of which is sought do not entail a serious infringement of privacy), even criminal offences which are not particularly serious may justify such interference (that is, disclosure of the data requested).
In particular, the Advocate General considers that EU law does not preclude the competent authorities having access to identification data held by electronic communications service providers where such data make it possible to find the presumed perpetrators of a criminal offence that is not of a serious nature." [emphasis in original]
"Foreigners who work long hours for negligible pay in the Sicilian countryside are having their settlements razed, exposing them to even worse treatment."
UK: Remember David Oluwale and Stephen Lawrence (IRR News, link):
"Tomorrow, on 4 May, it will be forty-nine years since the body of David Oluwale was pulled from the River Aire, Leeds in 1969. And nearly two weeks ago, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 was marked."
Bulgaria dislikes Commission plan to link EU funding to rule of law (euractiv, link):
"A major innovation in the next long-term EU budget proposed by the European Commission yesterday (2 May) is the conditionality between EU funding and the rule of law. But the country holding the EU Presidency voiced its own clear rejection."
"About 150 asylum seekers have confronted police officers in a small German town to prevent the deportation of a Togolese man. Authorities said, due to exceptional circumstances, they had no option but to release the man."
European Commission wants 10,000 border guards (euobserver, link):
"Some six years after Greece erected a 10km barb wired border fence along a stretch of the Evros river it shares with Turkey, the European Commission has announced plans to create a standing corps of 10,000 border guards.
On Wednesday (2 May), the EU executive proposed the idea as part of its aim to overhaul the EU budget for the years 2021-27.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.4-2.5.18) including: Lesvos: 17 to be charged for attacks against refugees, migrants and police
Parliamentary Asssembly of the Council of Europe: State of emergency: proportionality issues concerning derogations under Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights (pdf):
"1. It is the State's responsibility to take preventive measures to protect the interests of society in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation, as the Parliamentary Assembly has previously noted in Resolution 1659 (2009) on the protection of human rights in emergency situations. Such situations may even require restrictive measures that exceed what is normally permitted under the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5, “the Convention”). Without appropriate guarantees, such measures create serious risks for democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
2. The Convention is adaptable to any and all circumstances, continuing to regulate the State's actions even in the event of national crisis. Article 15 of the Convention allows States to derogate from certain of their obligations in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation. In no circumstances, however, does it allow national authorities to act without constraint."
Only four EU Member States prohibit the solitary confinement of child detainees even though such detention can harm a child’s health and development. This is just one of the many ways age limits can impact child’s rights, outlined in a new European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights report. It suggests how Member States can remove inconsistencies to better deliver child protection.
GENEVA (27 April 2018) - UN human rights experts* have expressed serious concerns over the deaths of a disproportionate number of people of African descent and of ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom as a result of excessive force by State security.
“The deaths reinforce the experiences of structural racism, over-policing and criminalisation of people of African descent and other minorities in the UK,” they said.
"The digital information ecosystem farms people for their attention, ideas and data in exchange for so called 'free' services. Unlike their analogue equivalents, these sweatshops of the connected world extract more than one's labour, and while clocking into the online factory is effortless it is often impossible to clock off."
FRANCE: Scores detained after Paris May Day protests turn violent (CNN, link):
"More than 100 people remained in custody in Paris Wednesday after annual May Day protests turned violent, police said.
A McDonald's restaurant was destroyed by protesters during the unrest. Photographs show extensive damage to the building, with protesters kicking in smashed windows. Footage also showed damage to a Renault car dealership, as well as other businesses.
The Paris chief of police, Michel Delpuech, said 109 people were in detention on Wednesday. "It's been a long time since we saw numbers at this level," Delpuech told BFM TV Wednesday morning."
And see: Violence in Paris, arrests in Turkey punctuate defiant May Day rallies across the globe (Chicago Tribune, link)
Our data doubles: how biometric surveillance ushers in new orders of control (OpenDemocracy, link):
"The use of biometric data brings the border within the body: algorithms' apparent objectivity and efficiency obscure the brutality of the tasks they accomplish, deciding who is fit to stay or go, who to live or die."
GREECE: Lesvos: 17 locals to be charged for attacks against refugees, migrants and police (Keep Talking Greece, link):
"Police authorities on the island of Lesvos have prepared case files against 17 locals for the attacks against refugees, migrants and police officers last Sunday. According to local media, 5 of the suspects will be charged with felony charges, while the remaining 12 will face charges for misdemeanors offenses.
The case files reportedly refer to the first group of people who have been identified as being involved in the attacks against refugees and migrants but also policemen on Sappho Square in the capital of the island."
UK: Who is immigration policy for? The media-politics of the hostile environment (Corporate Watch, link):
"Most basically, migration figures continue to rise, while the ineffectiveness of vicious Immigration Enforcement measures is an open secret amongst Home Office officials. In fact the level of resources – and violence – required to really seal borders would go well beyond anything yet seen.
So what really drives the hostile environment policies? Our new report “Who is immigration policy for?” examines the following key points:
See also: Summary: Who is immigration policy for? Hostile Environment and anxiety media-politics (link to pdf)
Data shows migration more strongly linked to aspiration than desperation (EU Science Hub, link):
"A new global analysis of intentions to migrate suggests that individuals preparing to move abroad are more likely to do so out of aspiration for a better life, economic opportunities and development of skills, rather than sheer desperation.
While the analysis does not include individuals who are forced to migrate, such as refugees and asylum seekers, it provides valuable insights on voluntary migrants.
Between 2010 and 2015, around 30% of the population of 157 countries around the world expressed a wish to move abroad, while less than 1% have actually migrated.
The analysis finds that while being dissatisfied with one’s own standard of living is associated with a higher probability to desire and to plan a move abroad, the link with making concrete preparations is less clear."
See: EU Joint Research Centre technical report: A global analysis of intentions to migrate (pdf)
Statewatch Analysis: The Tarnac affair: the shipwreck of the French 'counter-terrorism struggle' (pdf) by Franck Richard:
Ten years after the 'Tarnac affair' began with accusations of terrorism against a group of people from a libertarian community, the key individuals in the case, subsequently accused of sabotaging railway lines, have been cleared of all charges. The process has demonstrated a set-up designed to create an internal enemy.
A new report, Still Dying on the Inside, released today by the charity INQUEST, calls for urgent action to save the lives of women in prison. INQUEST highlights the lack of action from successive governments to prevent deaths and puts forward a series of recommendations to close women’s prisons by redirecting resources from criminal justice to community-based services.
94 women have died in prison since the 2007 publication of Baroness Corston’s ground-breaking review of women in the criminal justice system. 2016 was the deadliest year on record with 22 deaths in women’s prisons.
Reprieve call for UK public inquiry
- Agreements would allow exchange of personal data with countries including Algeria, Egypt and Turkey - MEPs concerned over making deals with dictatorships - Council amends draft decisions: but will paper safeguards be enough?
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