A planned amendment to the Residence Act in Germany has prompted more than 50 organisations to raise concerns about the potential criminalisation of sea rescue and humanitarian assistance. The proposed changes to Section 96 of the Residence Act, under the "Return Improvement Act," could result in non-profit organisations that support people on the move in border areas facing criminal prosecution.
Six years ago, the Court of Justice struck down the EU's PNR agreement with Canada due to its lack of safeguards on data protection, non-discrimination and effective remedy for individuals. In 2019, a new draft agreement was shared by the Commission with the European Parliament, but no further amended version was communicated until yesterday, on the day negotiations are supposed to be finalised.
Non-EU states should agree to the use of videoconferences to confirm the identity of individuals facing deportation proceedings in EU member states, says an internal European Commission report obtained by Statewatch. This is one of several initiatives being pushed as part of the drive to increase deportations from the EU, alongside digital information exchange platforms and sanctions on visa issuance for nationals of states deemed to be insufficiently cooperative with removals from the EU.
The Spanish Council Presidency wants the EU to start designing legislation for a "European return decision," to ensure harmonised deportations procedures and practices across the bloc, and increase the number of third-country nationals removed from EU territory.
The European Commission wants to agree “new anti-smuggling operational partnerships” with Tunisia and Egypt before the end of the year, despite longstanding reports of abuse against migrants and refugees in Egypt and recent racist violence endorsed by the Tunisian state. Material and financial support is already being stepped up to the two North African countries, along with support for Libya.
The USA’s proposed Enhanced Border Security Partnerships would entail “systematic and continuous” exchanges of sensitive personal data between participating states. The European Commission has indicated that its working group with the USA has stopped operating, and that plans are instead being negotiated bilaterally between member states and the USA.
Draft European Commission proposals would impose intelligence-gathering requirements on any ships that engage in search and rescue (SAR) operations at sea, in the name of "addressing the needs of those onboard as well as facilitating a smooth disembarkation and first reception". An employee of a search and rescue organisation has warned that "civil assets used in sea rescue operations should not be tasked with any law enforcement duty."
Three English universities have divested from companies profiting from border violence in a major win for the Divest Borders campaign. However, over £300 million of university endowments still remain invested in the border industry.
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