Launched in 1999 and updated regularly, Statewatch News includes our own reporting and writing as well as articles, announcements, documents and analyses from elsewhere on civil liberties, EU policies and state practices. You can receive updates in your inbox by signing up to our mailing list, or use our RSS feed to get instant alerts.

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).

29 January 2024

EU: Tracking the Pact: Texts of the Asylum Procedure and Eurodac Regulations

The laws making up the EU's Pact on Migration and Asylum were agreed in feverish secret meetings between the Council, Commission and Parliament at the end of December. However, they only reached "political agreement" - the actual texts of the different pieces of legislation have since been hammered out in "technical discussions". Statewatch is publishing the consolidated texts of the Asylum Procedure Regulation and the Eurodac Regulation, two of the multiple new laws set to govern asylum and migration in the EU in the years to come.

29 January 2024

UK: More than 250 organisations call for rejection of "legal fiction" of Rwanda Bill

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill is to receive its second reading in the House of Lords today. A statement signed by 265 civil society organisations and other entities from across the UK, including Statewatch, calls for it to be rejected.

25 January 2024

EU: Council Presidency seeks “common vision” on US database access demands

The US wants to vet travellers through direct access to foreign databases, including those of EU member states. Bilateral discussions are ongoing and are at different stages in different states, but it remains unclear whether the agreements are an EU or national competence. The US is organising an “informal information meeting” for EU member states and institutions, after which the Presidency wants to develop a “common vision”.

17 January 2024

Risk screening and watchlists: Europol and Frontex reports on development of the “permission to travel” system

Reports circulated by Europol and Frontex to member states last October show that the development of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) was – at least at the time – still plagued by delays, which both agencies blame on eu-Lisa, the EU’s database agency. Frontex’s report says the delays were causing problems for the “assessment functionality for the risk screening of the ETIAS applications,” through which travellers will be profiled. Meanwhile, Europol continues to develop its new “watchlist” of potential terrorists and criminals, and is seeking permission to use data supplied by non-EU states in the assessment of travel applications.

11 January 2024

EU: Police data access working group needs transparency and critical advice, says joint civil society letter

A letter signed by 21 organisations, including Statewatch, calls on the EU's new High Level Group on Access to Data for Effective Law Enforcement (HLG) to ensure its proceedings are transparent and that it facilitates the participation of independent civil society experts, instead of relying solely on the input of police, interior ministry and industry officials.

10 January 2024

US migration data demands are “challenging”, say Norwegian authorities

Norwegian government officials have met with their US counterparts to discuss the US' demands for direct access to biometric, identity and criminal record databases as part of its new “border security” plan, according to a report in the newspaper Bergens Tidende. The Norwegian police have apparently described the proposals as “challenging,” given existing legal requirements.

10 January 2024

EU missions in Palestine ponder role for "day after" Gaza bombardment ends

Two reports from EU security missions in Palestine, dealing with policing and border control, indicate that officials are pondering their role in the planning for whatever happens when Israel's bombardment of the Gaza strip ends.

19 December 2023

Tracking the Pact: Council for detention of families, against legal advice and sibling reunion

A discussion document circulated by the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU prior this week's crunch trilogues on new migration and asylum legislation sets out the Council's red lines: families with children should not automatically be excluded from border procedures, and thus may be detained; free legal advice should not be provided to asylum applicants; and siblings should not be considered as family members. The Council also wants to maintain "a menu of derogations as broad as possible."

19 December 2023

All EU institutions want billions more for borders, but disagree on the details

At its meeting last week, the European Council – made up of the heads of state and government of EU member states – backed the European Commission’s proposal to boost the EU’s 2021-27 border budgets by €2 billion. This is not enough for the European Parliament, however, which would like to see the budgets increased by €3 billion. Meanwhile, all three institutions have different positions on the proposed increase for development aid, which includes funding for externalised migration control.

14 December 2023

EU: Hamas ban plan sparks concerns of crackdown on pro-Palestinian action

A Franco-German-Italian plan setting out proposals to counter the activities of Hamas at both EU and global level has raised concerns that governments may use it as a justification for further attacks on pro-Palestinian protest and campaigning. The document outlines strategies ranging from restricting resources to banning support networks.

12 December 2023

Expansive new police powers hidden behind EU’s migrant smuggling proposals

At the end of November, the European Commission announced two new laws to fight migrant smuggling. One seeks to make the legal framework more punitive. The other aims “to reinforce Europol’s role in the fight against migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings,” but would in fact expand Europol’s powers in relation to all crimes for which it has competence, and let the agency conduct “non-coercive investigative measures” during joint operations with national police forces. Its staff are currently prohibited from conducting any kind of investigative measure.

06 December 2023

Tracking the Pact: Human rights disaster in the works as Parliament makes "significant concessions" to Council

Negotiations are close to an end on the new laws that make up the EU's Pact on Migration and Asylum, and the Council - which has consistently favoured rules that will downgrade human rights protections - appears to have largely got its way, according a document circulated by the Spanish Council Presidency yesterday. Amongst other things, the document openly admits that the Council is planning to sideline Parliament's concerns over "potential discrimination based on race."

05 December 2023

UN travel surveillance system needs “pause and urgent review”, says Special Rapporteur

A UN Special Rapporteur has called for a pause to the roll-out of an UN-sponsored travel surveillance system, and for an urgent review to be initiated. The international exchange of travellers’ information amongst police and border forces is on the rise but access to remedies remains limited, leaving gaps in the protection of individual rights. Azerbaijan, a state that imprisons political opponents and that has been accused of committing genocide, is one of dozens of countries that have received UN assistance.

04 December 2023

Europe’s (digital) borders must fall: End the expansion of the EU’s EURODAC database

110 civil society organisations, including Statewatch, are calling for an end to the expansion of EURODAC, the EU database for the registration of asylum-seekers. EURODAC, designed to collect and store migrants’ data, is being transformed into an expansive, violent surveillance tool that will treat people seeking protection as crime suspects. This will include children as young as 6 whose fingerprints and facial images will be integrated into the database.

30 November 2023

Germany: Legal change could criminalise sea rescue and humanitarian assistance

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.

24 November 2023

European Parliament sidelined in adoption of new travel surveillance agreement with Canada

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.

22 November 2023

Videoconference identification part of push to digitalize EU deportation procedures

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.


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