2024

15 July 2024

EU: Council lowers threshold for migrant smuggling prosecutions

EU institutions are discussing proposed changes to the law criminalising the facilitation of irregular migration, which has also been used to criminalise migrants and individuals acting in solidarity with them. The Belgian Council presidency presented a revised draft to other EU member states at the end of May, which would simplify the criminalisation of irregular entry, amongst other things. The draft will serve as the basis for further discussions within the Council, with Hungary now in the presidency role until the end of this year.

09 July 2024

Almost 100 organisations call on EU to uphold the right to asylum

Statewatch is one of 95 organisations that are calling on EU institutions and member states to uphold the right to asylum, and to halt the pursuit of deals, agreements and arrangements that would outsource asylum processing to third states. Doing so risks "undermining the international protection system," says the statement, noting that attempts to outsource asylum processing have caused "immeasurable human suffering and rights violations."

09 July 2024

Out of sight, out of mind: EU planning to offshore asylum applications?

In a letter sent to EU heads of state last month, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen named 2024 “a landmark year for EU migration and asylum policy,” but noted that the agreement on new legislation “is not the end.” She went on to refer to the possibility of “tackling asylum applications further from the EU external border,” describing it as an idea “which will certainly deserve our attention.”

02 July 2024

How the EU police training agency is cosying up to the Arab League’s political extradition body

CEPOL, the EU police training agency, is collaborating with the Arab League’s political extradition body in spite of its human rights obligations.

01 July 2024

UK: Parliamentary candidates must end "hateful and inflammatory rhetoric" against migrants

Candidates in this week's general election in the UK should shun "hateful and inflammatory rhetoric" against migrants and support policies for "digital sanctuary," says a letter signed by 37 organisations, including Statewatch. Providing "digital sanctuary" for people means "ending the hostile digital environment, establishing robust privacy protections for migrants’ data and promoting inclusive digital policies," says the letter.

20 June 2024

Greek border deaths: Frontex management board knew about "systematic" violations

An investigation by the BBC has put the Greek state’s deadly border policies back in the public eye – but there has so far been no mention in the press of Frontex’s operations in the country. Documents seen by Statewatch show that despite warnings from its own fundamental rights officials, Frontex’s senior staff and management board did nothing to halt the agency’s operations in Greece. Suspending or terminating operations is a legal obligation when rights violations “are of a serious nature or are likely to persist.” A case before the Court of Justice of the EU is seeking an order to halt Frontex’s Greek operations, with an appeal filed in January still pending.

12 June 2024

Frontex collaboration with Libya: “we call them and try to persuade them to take them back”

The EU Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, has been accused of aiding the return of migrants who have fled Libya back to the country, and to possible torture and blackmail. Border guards who have worked for Frontex, speaking to journalists from the Swedish television programme Mission Investigate, by Sveriges Television (SVT), revealed just how close contact with groups in the country is. Meanwhile, a rescue mission in the Mediterranean being documented by Mission Investigate was fired upon by the so-called Libyan coast guard.

06 June 2024

Policing by design: the latest EU surveillance plan

The EU should reintroduce mass telecommunications surveillance and create backdoors to encrypted data, a new plan drafted in secret by police and security officials says. To do so, close coordination between the state and industry would be required, to ensure what the plan calls “lawful access by design.” The plan repeats demands made many times over the years by officials, and may find a warm reception from the incoming European Commission.

21 May 2024

New EU migrant smuggling law: member states keen on maximum criminalisation

The EU is moving towards adopting a renewed law to criminalise migrant smuggling, and member states in the Council have started making progress towards a position for negotiations with the Parliament. Some governments appear to favour maximum criminalisation, calling for a broad definition of smuggling to facilitate prosecutions – a position that has been taken on board by the Belgian Council Presidency in an initial compromise text.

16 May 2024

Who’s a “potential terrorist or violent extremist threat”? Plans to exchange information about “future” criminals

EU member states have finalised a set of “non-binding” criteria for assessing when someone may be labelled a potential terrorist or violent extremism threat. The intention is to feed European databases such as the Schengen Information System (SIS) and the Europol Information System (EIS), as well as Europol analysis projects such as “Hydra” and “Traveller”, according to a note circulated by the Belgian Council Presidency last month.

10 May 2024

Europol migrant smuggling proposal torn to shreds by the Council

The Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU has proposed gutting the Commission’s proposal to increase Europol’s powers in human smuggling and trafficking cases. There is little that remains of the original proposal, aside from new “Operational Task Forces” led by member states (with a support role given to Europol) and a limited mandatory exchange of information on smuggling and trafficking investigations.

07 May 2024

Finland and Italy want more military involvement in migration control

The Finnish and Italian governments last month presented a plan on “countering instrumentalization of migration and migrant smuggling” to the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting, calling for “innovative ways” to address the issues – including by increased cooperation between the EU and NATO.

29 April 2024

New project to provide systematic monitoring of EU externalisation policy

What are the objectives of the EU’s external migration policy? With which countries are new migration agreements planned? How is the EU seeking to integrate non-European states into its violent migration control regime? And what impact will this have on people seeking protection, migrants, democracy and human rights, inside and outside the EU?

25 April 2024

EU: Council eyes role in “operationalising” the Pact on Migration and Asylum

“The effectiveness of this new legal framework hinges on its successful implementation. This will require the adoption and application of regulatory adjustments at national level, the development or enhancement of equipment and infrastructure, the implementation of new systems, processes and procedures, reinforced coordination at national and EU level, and increased operational support and financial allocation.”

23 April 2024

Italy: Press freedom under attack as three reporters face up to nine years in prison

Three Italian journalists working for the newspaper Domani - Giovanni Tizian, Nello Trocchia and Stefano Vergine - face up to nine years in prison. An investigation by the Perugia Public Prosecutor alleges that they requested and received confidential documents from a public official, and breached the secrecy of the investigation through the request and publication of information in those documents. The articles in question concerned Italy's defence minister Guido Crosetto, who for years prior to becoming minister was paid by the arm industry as an advisor. Alongside multiple other organisations and media outlets, Statewatch has signed a statement calling on the Italian authorities to respect press freedom.

22 April 2024

EU-Israel data agreement rings alarm bells

At the beginning of the year, the European Commission approved the continuation of 11 personal data adequacy agreements with non-EU states. The approval allowed the continuation of unrestricted data flows with entities in the EU. In an open letter to the Commission, Statewatch and 10 other organisations raise a number of concerns regarding the agreement with Israel, arguing that problems with the rule of law and practices of mass surveillance by security and intelligence agencies call the adequacy agreement into question.

10 April 2024

The EU Migration Pact: a dangerous regime of migrant surveillance

The #ProtectNotSurveil coalition, of which Statewatch is a member, has issued a statement condemning "the criminalisation and digital surveillance of migrants" that will be ushered in by the new Pact on Migration and Asylum. The laws that are part of the Pact were given final approval by the European Parliament this afternoon. The statement explains how the new legal framework "will enable and in some cases mandate the deployment of harmful surveillance technologies and practices against migrants," whilst laying the foundations for the expanded use of invasive technologies in the future.

09 April 2024

Policing migration: when “harm reduction” means “multipurpose aerial surveillance”

The EU’s latest “operational action plan” on migrant smuggling gives a central role to Europol, which will receive data resulting from more than two dozen joint police operations launched by EU member states, EU agencies and a range of non-EU states. The UK is heavily involved in the plan, and is leading one activity. One objective is for harm reduction and assistance to victims, but the only activity foreseen is for Frontex to increase use of its “EUROSUR Fusion Services, including the Multipurpose Aerial Surveillance aircraft service.”

09 April 2024

Migration Pact "will engender a proliferation of human rights violations" and must be rejected

Ahead of Wednesday's final parliamentary vote on the laws that make up the EU's Pact on Migration and Asylum, 161 organisations - including Statewatch - have called on MEPs to vote against the new measures. The statement says that the new laws will create "a system whereby the right to seek asylum in the EU is severely threatened and will engender a proliferation of human rights violations," and should be rejected.

 

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