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A large majority of MEPs have voted to approve a mandate for negotiations with the Council of the EU on expanding the powers of Europol, the EU policing agency, despite serious fundamental rights concerns with the proposals.
Covering COVID-19, "digital", energy prices, migration, trade and external relations.
A new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Legal Aid presents the findings of an extensive inquiry into the sustainability and recovery of the legal aid sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A series of cuts and changes to the legal aid sector over the last decade have taken entire areas of law out of the scope of legal aid (leaving individuals to cover their own costs, if they are to bring a case at all) and the report finds that the low rates available for taking on legal aid work make it difficult for solicitors and barristers to continue working on legal aid cases. It calls for substantial investment in and reform of the legal aid system in order to ensure access to justice.
In January 2022 UN member states will start negotiating a new convention on "the use of information technology and communications technologies for criminal purposes." EU institutions and member states have been working towards defining their position for the first round of talks, which includes a demand that any new agreement be "focused primarily on substantive criminal and criminal procedural law, as well as associated mechanisms for cooperation."
A note from the Slovenian Presidency outlines some of the issues that have emerged in negotiations with the European Parliament on new rules designed to ease cross-border access to digital data for use in criminal investigations and judicial proceedings.
On 13 October the Council of the EU published its mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on new rules granting Europol influence over alerts in the Schengen Information System (SIS) based on data received from non-EU states. The new "information alerts on third-country nationals in the interest of the Union" are intended to increase the flow of information on non-EU nationals held in the SIS. The European Parliament is due to vote on its own negotiating mandate this week.
Statewatch has joined over 60 organisations calling on the Italian government to exonerate Mimmo Lucano, a mayor convicted to 13 years in prison for his support for people on the move.
The Slovenian Presidency recently proposed accelerating negotiations on plans to expand the Eurodac database that would transform it into a "multi-purpose" system for capturing the data of asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. However, a document setting out the views of a number of member states suggests there is not much enthusiasm for the idea.
A new database that will require the biometric registration of almost all non-citizens entering and exiting the EU is facing "substantial delays" and will not be completed on time, according to a letter obtained by Statewatch. Meanwhile, upgrades to the Schengen Information System are highly unlikely to be completed on time.
The Council of Europe has adopted a new 'Action Plan on Protecting Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum', covering the period 2021-25.
A new policy briefing by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) looks at the collection, processing and sharing of personal data and the use of new technologies in the counter-terrorism and freedom of movement context.
The Association for Immigration Law Studies (ASGI) has published a study of Turin's Pre-Removal Detention Centre, the second-largest such centre in Italy. The 'Black Book' was written following the death in solitary confinement of 22-year old Moussa Balde in May. It examines the centre's inhumane conditions and the rights violations to which its "guests" (a euphemism used by the Italian state for detainees) are subjected.
The European Commission’s Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence in the Domain of Home Affairs is currently in breach of its own transparency rules, preventing public oversight of its membership.
The first round of negotiations for a UK-EU agreement on Gibraltar will begin this week with "mobility of persons" the first substantive issue under discussion, a topic that includes "asylum, short term and long term visas and residence permits".
Official documents on: negotiations on the agreement on Gibraltar (including plans for Spain to undertake border controls, Spain-UK cooperation on asylum and deportations, Spanish control over issuing short-stay visas, and more); EU proposal for a possible "EU-UK CT [counter-terrorism] Dialogue"; EU notifications under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on police data protection authorities.
On 4 October the Slovenian Presidency circulated re-drafted sections of the proposed Asylum and Migration Management Regulation to national delegations in the Council. The proposals cover the section on "solidarity" - that is, how member states are supposed to aid one another in dealing with the "burden" of individuals arriving in the EU - and parts of Article 6, concerning "recurring disembarkations following search and rescue operations."
Member states see the use of detention as "a key measure" for the purpose of carrying out the "screening" of people arriving irregularly at the EU's external borders, according to the Slovenian Presidency, which hopes to rush the measures through to "strengthen the protection of the external borders and prevent illegal migration."
Press release published by the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, along with the Mission's full report and statements from a press conference on 4 October.
"It is therefore important to have a broad policy discussion at the highest political level on the challenges and way forward in relation to the underlying question: what is required, in concrete terms, in order to ensure an operationally sufficient level of access to data for authorities that are responsible for public/internal security, including to safeguard the most vulnerable members of our societies."
The EU’s foreign policy chief has recommended funding the development of a “next generation” drone that could be deployed over land and sea in military operations, as well as for “civilian, law enforcement use.”
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