2024

04 April 2024

Hardwiring the externalisation of border control into EU law

EU institutions have almost finalised negotiations on the Pact on Migration and Asylum, with MEPs due to vote on a range of new laws next week. Approval for the measures is almost certain – and when they come into force, they will turn the externalisation of migration and border control into legal obligations.

28 March 2024

EU: Intelligence-sharing plan extended from asylum-seekers to "any foreigner involved in a migratory procedure"

In 2022, EU member states began discussing ways to increase the amount of information sent to intelligence agencies on "the timing and state of progress of applications for international protection lodged by individuals posing a terrorist threat". Now the intention is to cover not just asylum-seekers, but "any foreigner involved in a migratory procedure." According to the Belgian Presidency, "security concerns go beyond the mere scope of applicants for international protection, as they also cover other people who apply for the legal right to stay in Europe."

27 March 2024

Joint Statement: Egyptian authorities must end arbitrary detentions and forced deportations of Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers

More than 25 organisations, including Statewatch, have signed a joint statement calling on the Egyptian government "to immediately stop the serious abuses against Sudanese seeking refuge in Egypt," including inhumane detention conditions, unfair proceedings, forced returns, racial profiling and the extraction of payments on promise of status regularisation. The statement follows a previous call made in October 2022 and comes in the context of the EU agreeing to provide a further €200 million to the Egyptian government for migration and border control.

22 March 2024

EU-funded drone technology being used in war on Gaza

A drone manufacturer that is “supporting the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] 100%” in the war on Gaza received a €50,000 research and development grant from the EU, an analysis published today by Statewatch and Informationsstelle Militarisierung (Information Centre on Militarisation, IMI) reveals. Other Israeli military companies and institutions have received millions of euros for drone development in recent years, despite a supposed prohibition on EU funding for military and defence projects.

15 March 2024

85 civil society organisations call on MEPs to uphold fundamental rights and reject the harmful Schengen Borders Code recast

Alongside 85 other organisations, Statewatch has signed a joint statement calling on MEPs to reject changes to the Schengen Borders Code. The statement says that the new legislation will increase racial profiling, allow for "internal pushbacks" between Schengen states, invokes the questionable concept of "instrumentalisation of migration" to allow derogations from rights, and will lead to an increase in the use of new surveillance technologies.

15 March 2024

“Action file” on Tunisia outlines EU’s externalisation plans

An “action file” obtained by Statewatch lays out the objectives and activities of the EU’s cooperation on migration with Tunisia – whose government was heavily criticized by the European Parliament this week for “an authoritarian reversal and an alarming backslide on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

15 March 2024

Parliamentary lawyers: democratic oversight needed for EU-Tunisia migration agreement

Last July, the EU and Tunisia signed a memorandum of understanding in which the EU promised substantial support for Tunisian migration and border controls. An opinion by the European Parliament Legal Service, obtained by Statewatch, concludes that although the agreement is not legally binding, some form of parliamentary oversight is required. Currently, that is not the case, but MEPs are demanding it – in particular due to the authoritarian nature of many of the regimes the EU is supporting.

13 March 2024

New report examines redress for systemic human rights violations in Turkish messaging app prosecutions

PRESS RELEASE: A new report published today by Statewatch provides a comprehensive analysis of the Turkish authorities’ prosecutions of individuals for using an encrypted messaging app, providing insight into systemic human rights violations and potential remedies for those who have been wrongfully convicted.

06 March 2024

Statewatch is seeking information on secrecy and security exceptions in asylum and immigration cases

Individuals involved in immigration and asylum proceedings can face multiple barriers to a fair hearing: an unfamiliar or unknown language, a lack of legal aid, and limited support networks. There is also the possibility that secret evidence will be used to refuse their applications or deny them entry to the territory. To gather further evidence on the extent of this problem, and the possibilities that data protection law offers as a remedy, Statewatch has launched a questionnaire to gather evidence from affected individuals, lawyers and support groups.

27 February 2024

UK: Law changes will make it harder to hold police to account for illegal data access

An office for West Yorkshire Police, based in Leeds, has been convicted of breaches of the Computer Misuse Act 1990, after using police databases to search for information on people she knew with no legitimate reason. The case highlights the risks posed by forthcoming changes to UK data protection law.

27 February 2024

Spain: Terrorism charges against protesters undermine "international human rights and democratic standards"

A letter signed by 20 organisations from across Europe, including Statewatch, calls for the dropping of terrorism charges filed by the Spanish authorities against 12 protesters. The 12 face the charges for organising a blockade of Barcelona's El Prat airport and the motorway at La Jonquera, near the border with France, in protest at the jailing of Catalan independence leaders. "The misuse of the accusation of terrorism is unjustifiable," the letter says. It goes on to say that it undermines "international human rights and democratic standards" and "has a chilling effect on civic engagement."

15 February 2024

Racial profiling and "internal pushbacks" in new Schengen borders legislation

Statewatch is publishing the final compromise text of the revised Schengen Borders Code, which is due for adoption soon by the Council and the Parliament. The text has been heavily criticised for encouraging racial profiling through the increased use of police patrols and checks at internal borders in the Schengen area, as well as legitimating "internal pushbacks", with the aim of avoiding the full-blown reintroduction of internal border controls.

14 February 2024

Civic space in Cyprus must be protected

KISA is a Cypriot NGO that works for "an all-inclusive, multicultural society, free of racism, xenophobia and discrimination," that has been the subject of ongoing and worsening attacks from the authorities and far-right groups. The most extreme such attack came on 5 January, when a bomb set off outside KISA's office broke all the windows, and destroyed much of the equipment and the organisation's archives. In response, over 40 organisations from across Europe, including Statewatch, are calling on Cypriot and European authorities to take action to condemn the bombing, launch an investigation, and halt the attacks upon KISA.

13 February 2024

MEPs can still halt the EU's harmful migration pact, say civil society groups

On 14 February, MEPs in the European Parliament's civil liberties committee will vote on the legislation that makes up the EU's Pact on Migration and Asylum, following political agreement between parliamentarians and EU member state representatives in December. A statement signed by more than 80 civil society organisations, including Statewatch, calls on MEPs to vote against rules that will have "devastating implications for the right to international protection in the bloc and greenlights abuses across Europe including racial profiling, default de facto detention and pushbacks."

13 February 2024

Italy: Trento council fined for illegal AI video and audio surveillance projects

Last month, the Italian privacy authority fined Trento city council €50,000 for the deployment of two artificial intelligence-driven urban surveillance projects that violated data protection rules. The two projects, which were funded by the EU, were accompanied by a third research project that avoided sanction from the privacy authority, as no data processing has so far taken place under its auspices.

13 February 2024

Deportations: EU considers stepping up visa sanctions after Iraq and Gambia change policies

Iraq and The Gambia have both been targeted with EU visa sanctions due to non-cooperation on deportations, and it seems the measures – or the threat of them – may have led to a new willingness to accept deportation flights from EU states. The instrument was first introduced in 2019, and was first applied to The Gambia in 2021. Now member states are discussing the way ahead for the visa sanctions regime, which may see more threats levelled at third countries deemed insufficiently cooperative with EU deportations.

12 February 2024

New powers for Europol: proposal gets frosty reception from member states

At the end of November the Commission proposed expanding Europol’s powers, in the name of fighting migrant smuggling. Member states have started discussing the proposal in the Council. Written comments obtained by Statewatch suggest that the plans have not been well-received in national capitals.

07 February 2024

Palestine: 300 academics call for halt to EU research funding that violates international law

Almost 300 academics from universities across Europe and beyond have called for the EU to stop funding research projects "that may, directly or indirectly, violate international law and human rights," in particular with regard to substantial research funding the EU provides to institutions in Israel.

06 February 2024

Tarajal border deaths: 11th March for Dignity demands justice as new lawsuit opened

Last Saturday, the 11th 'March for Dignity' took place in Ceuta, marking the killing of 14 people who died by drowning on 6 February 2014 after being pushed back by Spanish border guards, tear-gassed and fired upon with rubber bullets. A fresh lawsuit against Spain was recently filed at the UN by one of the survivors.

02 February 2024

No real safeguards for new Europol data powers, says data protection authority

A new proposal to enhance the powers of Europol and to strengthen its cooperation with Frontex in the name of fighting migrant smuggling falls short of respecting data protection and fundamental rights standards, according to the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS).

 

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