February

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.

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26 February 2021

"Artificial intelligence" could be used to screen and profile travellers to the EU

The screening and profiling of tourists and travellers to the EU could be stepped up even further with the use of "artificial intelligence" tools developed by EU agencies as part of the new 'Innnovation Hub for Internal Security'.

25 February 2021

Civic space in the era of securitised COVID-19 responses

A new report from the European Centre for Not-for-Profit Law looking at how security-related legislation introduced or used by states during the pandemic has restricted civic freedoms and human rights.

25 February 2021

EU states keen for Frontex assistance in deporting unaccompanied children

Member states are broadly supportive of greater Frontex support for the voluntary and forced removal of unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups, according to a document obtained by Statewatch. Current policy prevents the border agency from providing support for removal operations themselves, a stance supported by the agency’s fundamental rights consultative body. The Belgian authorities have proposed trying to convince them to change their position.

25 February 2021

New database on the oversight of intelligence agencies in Europe

A European research project examining surveillance, intelligence and oversight has produced a new database that aims to provide "an evolving document archive of laws and regulations, court decisions and official reports surrounding intelligence oversight."

25 February 2021

Italy: Policing of marginalised populations examined in new book

A new book by Professor Salvatore Palidda - 'Policing, security and insecurity' - is due to published as the 20-year anniversary of the Genoa G8 (19-21 July 2001), an example of brutal police repression of social movements during a large international demonstration, approaches.

25 February 2021

New report examines the "climate change–migration nexus" in the Sahel

A new report from the EU's Joint Research Centre seeks to provide "empirical evidence of climate migration and mobility" in a region of the Sahel in Western Africa, in particular by linking "population and migration data to indicators of slow-onset climatic events". The report provides useful context and detail to the often-invoked figures of potentially hundreds of millions or even billions of 'climate refugees' in decades to come.

24 February 2021

EU: Pandemic propels adoption of "secure and interoperable" cross-border communications tools for police

A document circulated by the German Presidency of the Council of the EU at the end of 2020 outlines efforts to adopt "secure and interoperable communications solutions" for cross-border police communication and cooperation, which seems likely to be a lasting change provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, commercially-available technologies are deemed inadequate.

24 February 2021

Frontex: Agency's initial response to alleged involvement in pushbacks

Statewatch has obtained a note produced by Frontex for the November 2020 Management Board meeting, when the allegations that the agency was involved in or had knowledge of pushbacks in the Aegean were discussed.

23 February 2021

Widening the net: massive expansion of Europol’s data-gathering powers proposed

EU policing agency Europol could have the scope of its data-gathering powers expanded massively under new proposals tabled by the European Commission in December. Current limits on the categories of people the agency can gather data on – such as convicts, suspects, witnesses and victims – would be circumvented, to allow Europol to process “big data dumps” transferred by national police forces, as well as data transferred by non-EU states.

23 February 2021

Frontex: European Parliament scrutiny group begins inquiry into rights violations allegations

A permanent European Parliament scrutiny group began work today to “oversee all aspects of the functioning of Frontex”. Launched on 29 January by MEPs in the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE), the group is mandated to spend its first four months investigating the allegations of involvement in fundamental rights violations that have dogged the agency since October 2020.

23 February 2021

UK: New research agency must not be exempt from freedom of information law, say campaigners

The government is proposing a new Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA), an independent body with a budget of £800 million over the term of the current parliament (until 2024), "to fund high-risk, high-reward scientific research." However, The Times has reported that the agency will be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act - a move that the Campaign for Freedom of Information says "would be wholly unjustified," as the law already protects commercial secrets and research interests.

23 February 2021

EU: Legal actions pile up against Frontex for involvement in rights violations

Two recent legal actions accuse Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, of serious violations of the rights of migrants and refugees in Greece.

22 February 2021

UK: Home Office data protection review of "the largest vehicle surveillance system of its type in the world"

The UK Home Office and National Police Chiefs Council have recently published a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) for the national Automated Numberplate Recognition (ANPR) system, which captures the location of some 60 million vehicle numberplates every day.

22 February 2021

EU: New powers for Europol: Council overview of "thematic blocks for discussion"

A document circulated to national delegations in the Council of the EU shows how the Council intends to divide up its discussions on proposals to reinforce the powers of EU policing agency Europol.

22 February 2021

Cyprus: 37 organisations call for the reinstatement of anti-racist NGO

An open letter signed by 37 organisations, including Statewatch, denounces the ongoing harassment of KISA and calls on the Cypriot authorities to reinstate their official registration as a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

18 February 2021

Greece: Ongoing impunity for rights violations at the borders is "inhuman"

Six human rights organisations have condemned the Greek and EU authorities in a report that shines a light on the growing use of pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish borders in recent years, continued legal challenges and complaints, and ongoing impunity. The organisations say that "pushbacks have been rising at an alarming rate since March 2020, revealing an unsettling pattern of a practice endangering people’s lives and even inhuman at its essence," and against national, EU and international law.

18 February 2021

EU: New petition calls for a ban on biometric mass surveillance

The Reclaim Your Face campaign has launched a European Citizens' Initiative calling for a ban on biometric mass surveillance, for example through the public deployment of facial recognition technologies. If the petition gets at least one million signatures from seven EU member states, the European Commission will be obliged to respond to the campaign's demands, and the European Parliament will have to debate the topic.

18 February 2021

EU: Revised "roadmap" for implementing the 2019 Frontex Regulation

The implementation of the 2019 Frontex Regulation has not been as swift as intended - in part due to the impact of the pandemic. However, media reports say that mismanagement and administrative failures have also played a role. The agency has produced a revised timetable for adopting its new roles, which Statewatch is publishing.

17 February 2021

New report examines the experiences of those travelling on the 'Atlantic Route' to Europe

The Mixed Migration Centre has published a new report based on recent interviews with people arriving in the Canary Islands from the coast of West Africa, exploring their motivations for travelling on that route and the risks and dangers faced by them in doing so.

17 February 2021

Brexit: European Parliament analysis of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement

EU-UK relations post-Brexit are largely governed by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, agreed at the end of 2020. A recent analysis by the European Parliament's research service examines the different areas covered by the text, including law enforcement and judicial cooperation.

 

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