2020

Launched in 1999 and updated regularly, Statewatch News includes our own reporting and writing as well as articles, announcements, documents and analyses from elsewhere on civil liberties, EU policies and state practices. You can receive updates in your inbox by signing up to our mailing list, or use an RSS feed to get instant alerts.

15 October 2020

EU: Mass, suspicionless surveillance regimes are illegal, court confirms

On 6 October 2020, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled in two separate cases (concerning the UK, and France and Belgium) that mass surveillance by national security agencies - here, the mass retention and collection of telecommunications data - is not in line with EU law, and that only certain types of limited data retention schemes with adequate safeguards are permissible.

15 October 2020

EU: Frontex on cooperation with Libya: nothing to see here

Two recent Amnesty International reports have highlighted the role played by EU institutions, agencies and member states in facilitating 'pull-backs' by the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG). Amnesty argues that collaboration with the LCG in this way violates international law. In a response to Amnesty, Frontex has avoided any meaningful engagement with the issues raised.

12 October 2020

UK: Government rhetoric on "activist lawyers" inspiring physical attacks, say legal professionals

The government's ongoing rhetoric against "activist lawyers" - which seems to be spearheaded, in particular, by the Home Office - has led to a physical attack at a law firm, legal professionals claim. Last month, a man entered a London law firm's office with a knife and managed to injure one member of staff in a racist attack, before being overpowered.

08 October 2020

Greece: On Lesvos, migrants and their supporters continue to suffer at the hands of the authorities

Legal Centre Lesvos reports on the situation following the fire that destroyed the Moria camp three weeks ago. Grassroots initiatives are being targeted and shut down, and a new, closed camp has been set up. Nevertheless, the organisation reports some succeses with individual cases.

08 October 2020

Brexit: New laws put UK on a path to dictatorship, warns former Supreme Court president

A former president of the Supreme Court has warned that certain provisions in the Internal Market Bill put the UK on a path towards "dictatorship", due to the explicit intention to breach international law and make it possible for the government to introduce regulations that are not subject to review by the courts.

08 October 2020

Italy: UN expert condemns ‘criminalization’ of those saving lives in the Mediterranean

Criminal proceedings in Italy are ongoing against the crew of the rescue boat Iuventa and the former captain of rescue boat Sea-Watch 3. A UN human rights expert says the charges should be dropped, because those saving lives at sea are "human rights defenders and not criminals."

08 October 2020

Europol unlawfully processing personal data of vast numbers of innocent people, says report

Europol is unlawfully processing the personal data of a vast number of innocent people, says a report by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). The agency has been given two months to come up with an “action plan” to fix the problem – but in the meantime, despite the serious risks to individual rights identified by the EDPS, the agency is allowed to continue using the techniques.

07 October 2020

Germany: Police and security services riddled with far-right activists, says official report

A report by Germany's domestic intelligence agency (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV) has detailed hundreds of anti-constitutional far-right incidents in the police and the military, yet the country's interior minister has apparently sought to downplay the significance of the findings.

07 October 2020

Greece: Golden Dawn: a criminal organisation

At the end of a five year trial, a Greek court has found senior members of neo-fascist party Golden Dawn guilty of running a criminal organisation. Party members were also found guilty of the 2013 murder of the rapper Pavlos Fyssas, physical attacks on trade unionists and the attempted murder of a fisherman.

07 October 2020

Greek police recruited undocumented migrants in operation against NGOs

The Greek police recruited two undocumented migrants as informers in an operation which has led to multiple accusations of criminality against a number of NGOs, whom the police argue have assisted in migrant smuggling. According to a report in Greek paper Kathimerini, the investigation revolves around the use of the AlarmPhone service - which exists precisely to help to people in distress at sea, and whose work has saved thousands of lives in recent years.

07 October 2020

UK: Undercover policing: Met police pay compensation to man fathered by undercover officer

The Metropolitan Police have paid a "substantial sum" in compensation to a man who found out when he was 26 that his father was Bob Lambert, a notorious undercover police officer. He had grown up believing that his father was a left-wing activist who had fled abroad. His mother became aware of Lambert's real identity at the same time as her son, after reading about Lambert in the papers. The Met previously paid her £425,000 in compensation due to the trauma she suffered.

07 October 2020

France turns down offer of UK drone assistance to stop migrants leaving beaches in first place

According to a report originally published in The Telegraph, the French authorities have turned down a UK offer of drones assistance to try to prevent departures of boats trying to cross the Channel. However, it is unclear from the report whether the UK authorities sought to lend the drone itself to the French, or instead wanted access to French airspace to monitor beaches.

07 October 2020

Northern Ireland: "I am sir, you are a number": Prisoners faced "systemic inhuman and degrading treatment" in response to 1970s protests, report finds

Prisoners held in the Armagh and H-Block prisons between 1976 and 1981 were subjected to "systemic inhuman and degrading treatment" that "violated international human rights standards and breached common law and statute", with the full knowledge of the British government, an independent inquiry has found.

06 October 2020

Joint NGO letter: No data retention in the EU!

40 organisations, including Statewatch, have written to the European Commission calling for a ban on blanket telecommunications data retention. Judgments in a number of cases concerning data retention are due to be handed down by the Court of Justice today. The Commissioner for Home Affairs has previously expressed a desire for new legislation on the issue, and the member states have long been keen on new EU-wide measures.

06 October 2020

UK: Grenfell files ‘lost forever’ after laptop wiped, inquiry hears

The Grenfell Inquiry, which is investigating the fire that killed 72 people in the Grenfell Tower block of flats in west London in June 2017, heard in mid-September that "emails, documents and design drawings" relating to the refurbishment of the tower with flammable cladding may have been "lost forever".

06 October 2020

European Parliament study on the EU's response to the USA's anti-abortion 'Gag Rule'

A study commissioned by the European Parliament's Women's Rights and Gender Equality committee (FEMM), looking at the EU's response to the 'Global Gag Rule', which "blocks US aid funds for organizations or groups that perform abortion services, provide information about sexual and reproductive health rights, and advocate for abortion."

06 October 2020

Twelve arrested for smuggling migrants in small boats across the English channel

A major operation involving judicial and law enforcement authorities from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, supported by Europol and Eurojust, led to the dismantling of a large network of criminals smuggling migrants in life threatening conditions across the English Channel.

06 October 2020

UK: Calls to halt bill authorising crimes by state agents

The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill would, if approved, give explicit legal permission for certain state agents to commit crimes in the course of their duties, but does not specify which crimes are covered. There is fierce opposition to the proposed measures.

06 October 2020

EU: Neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement targets Jews on Yom Kippur

Anti-semitic campaigns were launched by the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement in Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden recently, in the week leading up to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Actions were taken in almost 20 different cities including direct confrontation of Jewish worshippers, putting up anti-semitic posters and distributing flyers. The organisation was issued with a cease-and-desist order by the Finnish Supreme Court in late September, the first such order handed down in Finland since the 1970s.

 

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