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.

10 March 2021

Italy: Charges pressed against search and rescue crews

Activists have condemned the Italian authorities' decision to charge 21 individuals from three human rights with aiding and abetting illegal immigration, following the closure of an investigation into the groups' search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

10 March 2021

UK: Commission proposes new laws against "hateful extremism"

A report published by the government-appoined Commission for Countering Extremism has called for new laws to criminalise the possession of terrorist material, amongst a host of other recommendations.

09 March 2021

Northern Ireland: Gun "believed to have been smuggled with the help of British intelligence" implicated in up to 12 murders

An assault rifle linked to a series of murders carried out by loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland between 1988 and 1991 is believed to have been smuggled into the country with the help of British intelligence operatives, according to a recent media report.

09 March 2021

EU: Frontex: “human intelligence” sources will provide "actionable intelligence", says document

Fourteen Frontex officers have been trained on “Interrogation, questioning and debriefing tactics” and “How to recruit an informant” as part of a plan for “a long-term increase in the flow of incoming intelligence related information,” a document obtained by Statewatch reveals.

08 March 2021

EU: Data retention: Council Presidency tells national ministers that "a solution is necessary"

A discussion paper from the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU to national justice ministers says that "a solution is necessary" on the issue of telecommunications data retention for law enforcement purposes.

08 March 2021

Controversial EU plans for blanket message and chat control: third trilogue will take place tomorrow

The EU institutions will continue discussions tomorrow on whether providers of email, messaging and chat services should be able to automatically screen all communications for potential child sexual abuse material. Critics are concerned that the use of automated technology will wrongly block legitimate content, bypass judicial authorisation for accessing electronic communications and lay the groundwork for further intrusive automated screening tools.

08 March 2021

UK Home Office to lead discussion on "encryption and public safety" at UN crime congress

The UK Home Office is hosting a discussion on "end-to-end encryption and public safety" at the UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which kicked off this week with a mixture of online and 'real-world' events in Kyoto, Japan.

04 March 2021

EU: Ad-hoc relocation: A lottery from the sea to the hotspots and back to unsafety

A new report shows how people rescued at sea and brought ashore in the EU are "being denied their fundamental rights" through the ad-hoc relocation mechanism, through which people seeking international protection are relocated from maritime border states such as Italy and Malta to elsewhere in the EU.

04 March 2021

Council of the EU: Proposal for the possible inclusion of national databases on firearms and their owners in the future Prüm framework

The Portuguese Presidency of the Council has proposed that "national databases on firearms and their owners" be included in the "Prüm" network of national law enforcement databases.

04 March 2021

EU: Pushbacks scandal: Frontex correspondence with national and EU authorities

On the day that the European Parliament's inquiry into Frontex begins, we are publishing correspondence between Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri and the European Commission, Council and Parliament, the Frontex Management Board, and the border authorities Greece, Romania, Portugal and Sweden, on the subject of alleged complicity in pushbacks in the Aegean region.

03 March 2021

EU: New databases and information systems: "a paradigm shift in the area of border management"

"The new architecture for EU information systems for borders, migration and security will completely change the way in which border control and other related activities will be carried out," says a document from the Portuguese Presidency of the Council.

03 March 2021

EU: New judicial cooperation deals with dubious regimes proposed

The EU will seek agreements between EU judicial cooperation agency Eurojust and a range of non-EU countries - including states with dismal human rights records such as Egypt, Turkey, Israel and Algeria - following approval from the Council of the EU for the opening of negotiations.

02 March 2021

Greece: Crackdown on civil society groups working with refugees

A survey of 70 groups working with migrants and refugees in Greece reveals widespread problems provoked by changes to the country's legislation governing civil society organisations.

02 March 2021

Immigration and asylum round-up: 19 January - 1 March 2021

This Frontex-heavy issue of our immigration and asylum round-up includes items looking at criticism of, responses to and inquiries into the agency's alleged involvement in pushbacks in the Aegean, non-compliance with its fundamental rights obligations and a European Parliament inquiry into its mode of operation and internal affairs.

02 March 2021

Libya: Interceptions of people fleeing by sea increase as EU border mission seeks two-year extension

The EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya) wants to continue its support for the Libyan coast guard agencies that intercepted almost 3,000 more people at sea in 2020 than in 2019, according to a document obtained by Statewatch.

02 March 2021

Italy: Police operation against life-saving civil society organisation

At dawn on Monday 1 March the Italian authorities launched an operation against the NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans, which undertakes missions in the Mediterranean to save people in distress at sea, accusing them of receiving money in exchange for taking on board migrants who had been rescued by the Maersk Etienne tanker.

01 March 2021

EU: Blanket telecoms surveillance: data retention back on the agenda in the Council

The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU is continuing long-standing discussions on the retention of telecommunications data for the purposes of law enforcement, with the focus currently on "selective/targeted retention" and "retention of source IP addresses and civil identity data".

26 February 2021

"Artificial intelligence" could be used to screen and profile travellers to the EU

The screening and profiling of tourists and travellers to the EU could be stepped up even further with the use of "artificial intelligence" tools developed by EU agencies as part of the new 'Innnovation Hub for Internal Security'.

25 February 2021

Civic space in the era of securitised COVID-19 responses

A new report from the European Centre for Not-for-Profit Law looking at how security-related legislation introduced or used by states during the pandemic has restricted civic freedoms and human rights.

25 February 2021

EU states keen for Frontex assistance in deporting unaccompanied children

Member states are broadly supportive of greater Frontex support for the voluntary and forced removal of unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups, according to a document obtained by Statewatch. Current policy prevents the border agency from providing support for removal operations themselves, a stance supported by the agency’s fundamental rights consultative body. The Belgian authorities have proposed trying to convince them to change their position.


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