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.

19 August 2020

UK: Channel crossings - 100 groups demand safe and legal routes now

Civil society organisations, Windrush survivors, religious organisations and others are calling on the UK government to provide safe and legal routes to access the country as a way to halt the ongoing crossings of the Channel by people travelling in small boats. The death of 16-year-old boy, who drowned after trying to reach the UK, underscores the importance of the letter.

19 August 2020

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism: regulating expression online, without accountability?

An article in Slate looks at the workings of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), a global, informal body set up in 2017 by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube in response to government pressure to 'do something' about hate speech and extremist content online. Are its methods for regulating online speech transparent, accountable and under democratic control?

19 August 2020

'Schrems II' fallout: talks begin on "an enhanced EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework"

Will the EU and USA find a new way to permit the transatlantic commercial transfer of personal data? On 10 August talks took place between the European Commission and the US Department of Commerce "to evaluate the potential for an enhanced EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework" following the invalidation of the former Privacy Shield by the Court of Justice (CJEU) in the 'Schrems II' case. Observers believe that a replacement is likely, but would also be struck down by the courts without significant reforms to the US legal system.

17 August 2020

UK: Lawyers and legal academics call on UK government to drop extradition case against Julian Assange

Hundreds of lawyers, legal associations and legal academics have signed an open letter to the UK government calling on it to drop the extradition case against Julian Assange, while lawyers for the Wikileaks founder have condemned the decision of US prosecutors to file new charges against him.

17 August 2020

Hungary: New emergency powers provide "a carte blanche mandate to rule by decree"

Changes to the legal framework governing states of emergency in Hungary, introduced with regard "states of danger" and "states of medical crisis", give the government wide-ranging powers but have "significantly weakened constitutional safeguards," warns a briefing by Amnesty International Hungary, the Eötvös Károly Institute, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.

13 August 2020

UK: Loving a lie: The woman who found her fiance was an undercover police officer

One of the women deceived into a long-term relationship by an undercover police officer has waived her anonymity and, in an interview with The Scotsman, has revealed her experiences with a 'spycop' who went by the cover name Carlo Neri.

13 August 2020

UK: New powers for police to stop suspected foreign agents at UK ports

The UK has further beefed up its counter-terrorism regime with the introduction new powers of detention and questioning at ports of entry when officials believe they are dealing with people "involved in hostile state activity."

13 August 2020

Belarus: Heavy repression of post-election protests

Two people have died and over 250 have been injured during protests against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, the long-standing dictator of Belarus who declared victory in recent elections after winning 80% of the vote.

13 August 2020

Turkey: More than 1500 lawyers prosecuted and 605 held in pretrial detention since 2016 coup attempt

The Arrested Lawyers Initiative has published an update to its report on the situation following the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey, following which the government unleashed a wave of repression.

12 August 2020

Spain introduces new Guardia Civil unit, reinforcing the militarisation of the southern border

The Spanish interior ministry has made a major change in the structure of the Guardia Civil, merging existing units in charge of operations against irregular migration via the Atlantic, the Strait of Gibraltar and the Alboran Sea in a newly established ‘Borders and Maritime Police Command’ (Mando de Fronteras y Policía Marítima), a move that will further militarise Spain’s border control operations.

12 August 2020

UK: "It is a fiction. There is no refugee crisis."

Ian Dunt, the editor of politics.co.uk, makes clear the problems with the approach of the British political and media establishment to the arrival of people who have travelled across the Channel in small, unseaworthy vessels.

12 August 2020

The legal battle to hold the EU to account for Libya migrant abuses

An article in The New Humanitarian examines some of the ways in which civil rights activists have sought to hold the EU to account for its role in the abuse of migrants 'pulled back' or held in detention in Libya. A number of other cases, not mentioned in the article, are also ongoing.

12 August 2020

UK: Legal action threatened over algorithm used to grade teenagers' exams

Digital rights organisation Foxglove is threatening to take legal action against Ofqual - the government body that regulates qualifications, exams and tests in England - on the grounds that the algorithm being used to determine students' estimated A-Level results potentially violates the Data Protection Act. Due to the pandemic, students' final exam results are being estimated based on previous grades, but Foxglove argue that schools, rather than individuals students, are being assessed.

12 August 2020

Border externalisation: Tunisia deploys "naval units, surveillance devices and search teams" to stop migrant departures

The Italian government claims to have succesfully pressured the Tunisian authorities to take renewed action against migrant departures from the coasts of the North African country, according to a report in InfoMigrants.

11 August 2020

UK: Police use of facial recognition technology unlawful, says Court of Appeal

The UK Court of Appeal has ruled that South Wales Police's "use of Live Automated Facial Recognition technology on 21 December 2017 and 27 March 2018 and on an ongoing basis, which engaged Article 8(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights [the right to a private and family life], was not in accordance with the law".

10 August 2020

UK: Government takes a hard line on 'small boat' arrivals

The number of people arriving irregularly on British shores has increased in recent weeks, bringing the total for the year to around 4,000. With a number of media outlets treating the issue as an emergency, the government has decided to follow suit and has nown appointed a former marine and senior Home Official official to "a new role leading the UK’s response to tackling illegal attempts to reach the UK."

10 August 2020

UK: Legal challenge seeks to halt export of 'less-lethal' weapons to US police forces

A group of young people are bringing a legal challenge that aims to halt the UK government's exports of 'less-lethal' weaponry to the US, such as tear gas and rubber bullets, due to the ongoing repression of protests across the country.

10 August 2020

Romania, Poland and Czech Republic acquiring drones for border surveillance, military purposes

A number of NATO member states in Eastern Europe - namely Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic - are acquiring a variety of drones with the aim of stepping up border surveillance activities, amongst other things.

10 August 2020

Germany: Belated and limited investigations into far-right death plots

The far-right Nordkreuz group, which was made up of some 30 members including officials from law enforcement authorities and the military, came under investigation from prosecutors in 2017. Despite alleged plans for a 'Day X', involving plots to round up and kill politicians and migrants, only two members of the group currently face terrorism charges.

10 August 2020

UK: Despite the pandemic, Home Office restarts 'Dublin' removals of asylum seekers to EU countries

The UK Home Office is set to deport up to 20 asylum-seekers to France and Germany this week, despite concerns that it may contribute to the spread of coronavirus. Campaigners suspect that the rush to restart removals under the EU's 'Dublin' system relates to the UK's final departure from the EU at the end of this year, with no replacement agreement on asylum matters in sight.


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