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Europol and Frontex have produced a joint report on the "digitalisation of migrant smuggling", intended to provide state officials with in the EU and Western Balkans "with a comprehensive intelligence picture on the use of digital tools and services' [sic] in migrant smuggling and related document fraud, in order to raise awareness, consolidate existing knowledge and enforce opportunities to take appropriate measures to tackle emerging threats."
In response to a letter from an MEP, EU policing agency Europol has disclosed some of the "data repositories" that it operates, "beyond iBase and Palantir".
Press release published by KISA on 18 October 2021.
A new report, 'From Sea to Prison: The Criminalization of Boat Drivers in Italy', looks at how the Italian state has arrested and imprisoned hundreds of people who have piloted boats towards the shores of the country, "utilizing criminal law, undercover police operations and emergency anti-Mafia powers to re-enforce Europe’s border regime."
In July, the Slovenian Presidency of the Council sought member states' views on the role of Frontex in implementing the EU's Strategy on Voluntary Return and Reintegration. The responses, published here, show that national authorities are keen to boost it.
In a strongly-worded statement, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights has called on member states to halt ongoing pushbacks and to cease any attempt to legalise the practice. The statement comes in response to a call from 12 EU member states that says all external borders "must be protected with maximum level of security" and essentially calls for the legalisation of pushbacks, EU funding for border walls, and measures to respond to "a hybrid attack characterised by an artificially created large scale inflow of irregular migrants".
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".
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