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 an RSS feed to get instant alerts.

27 November 2020

EU: Council set to adopt declaration against encryption

A declaration calling for "technical solutions for gaining access to encrypted data" through cooperation between states, industry and "other stakeholders" is due to be approved by the Council's Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), the final step before receiving formal sign-off at the December meeting of justice and home affairs ministers. The declaration sets out the Council's policy stance on obtaining access for state authorities to encrypted data, but does not establish any new binding measures. However, the declaration notes that a "regulatory framework... could be further assessed." Here we are publishing the declaration itself - which is currently secret - along with previous versions of the document, so it is possible to see how it has changed over time.

27 November 2020

Spain: Ombudsman demands immediate closure of the Arguineguín migrant camp to protect human rights

The Spanish Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo) has written to the interior ministry to demand the immediate closure of the camp set up by the government in the port of Arguineguín on Gran Canaria to host migrants who have arrived by sea. The Ombudsman says that the camp is putting people's physical integrity at risk, and people have been detained for longer than permitted by law. It would be possible for the Ombudsman to take legal proceedings in the case of inaction. The interior ministry insists it is working to dismantle the camp, which was set up following the recent arrival of large numbers of people via the crossing from West Africa.

27 November 2020

Danish military intelligence uses XKEYSCORE to tap cables in cooperation with the NSA

Leaks to the Danish media have revealed that the country's intelligence agency is cooperating with the US National Security Agency to tap underseas telecommunications cables. The XKEYSCORE system was revealed in documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

27 November 2020

European Parliament: compliance with migration control measures should be a condition for receiving EU development aid

On Wednesday the European Parliament voted in favour of a report that says the provision of development aid by the EU should depend on recipient states' compliance with "migration management" measures. A last-minute amendment by the MEP responsible for the file reversed the original position of the report. Human rights groups have condemned the move.

27 November 2020

Huge "surge in far-right political terrorism" across the globe, says report

The Global Terrorism Index 2020, which "provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the last 50 years, placing a special emphasis on trends over the last decade." The report highlights a "surge in far-right political terrorism, even though the absolute number of far-right attacks remains low when compared to other forms of terrorism."

27 November 2020

Italy: Release from immigration detention during the pandemic shaped by "gendered and racialised notions" of vulnerability and danger

A report by an international group of academics finds that although the Italian government took steps to release people from immigration detention due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the reduction "has been governed by selective logics of social control. Logics which have ultimately established a sort of ‘hierarchy of detention deservingness.’" This logic is centred on "gendered and racialised notions of 'vulnerability' and 'dangerousness'," with women and asylum-seekers released first, with other groups - homeless people, those with criminal records - continuing to be held and even being placed in detention during the pandemic.

27 November 2020

EU: Tracking the Pact: Mediterranean Subsaharan Migration Trade Union Network recommendations on the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum

In mid-September, prior to the European Commission's publication of the new 'Pact on Migration and Asylum', the Mediterranean Subsaharan Migration Trade Union Network issued a set of recommendations. The group called for a number of positive measures, including an increase in safe and legal channels for migrants to seek work in the EU, the simpification of entry conditions, more possibilities for individuals to regularize their status within the EU, an end to the detention of migrants, a halt to externalization policies and transparency over readmission agreements.

27 November 2020

EU: Deportations and 'voluntary' returns: Frontex plans and new mandate options, "effective and sustainable reintegration of returnees"

Five documents discussed by the Council of the EU's Working Party on Integration, Migration and Expulsion in March this year.

26 November 2020

EU: Tracking the Pact: Meijers Committee analysis of asylum proposals

The Meijers Committee of experts on international immigration, refugee and criminal law have analysed a number of the proposals published as part of the European Commission's Pact on Migration and Asylum. The committee examines the Asylum Screening Regulation, the Asylum Procedures Regulation, the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation, the Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation, the Strategy on the Future of Schengen and provide some general comments. Serious concerns are expressed over the proposals, in particular with regard to the use of detention, limits to legal assistance for individuals seeking protection, a lack of oversight mechanisms and the situation for unaccompanied children, amongst other things.

25 November 2020

UK: Deadly crossings: nearly 300 border-related deaths in and around the English Channel since 1999

A new report documents the nearly-300 border-related deaths in and around the English Channel since 1999. The report, by the Institute of Race Relation, the Permanent People's Tribunal London and Gisti, aims to "challenge the idea that the result of this massacre is misfortune" and lays the blame squarely on the action - and inaction - of the British and French authorities. It seeks to document the stories of those that have died at the border and calls for fundamental changes to the model of criminalisation and securitisation employed on both sides of the Channel.

24 November 2020

ECHR: No effective remedy for inhumane conditions after prisoner incurred a debt to the French state

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that France failed to provide an effective remedy to an individual held in inhumane detention conditions. The individual ended up owing the state €237 after having to pay for an expert to inspect the cell in which they were detained.

24 November 2020

UK: Divesting from immigration policing – the abolitionist challenge

Liz Fekete of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) argues that campaigns for migrant and refugee rights have often taken an implicitly 'abolitionist' approach - but that now is the time to make abolitionist demands more prominently, in order to dismantle the 'law and order' approach to immigration that has caused, and continues to cause, so much harm to individuals and society more broadly.

24 November 2020

‘This is hypocrisy’ – A Q&A with Giulia Tranchina on European migration policy in Libya

"Few know as much about the daily horrors facing migrants and refugees in Libya as Giulia Tranchina. For years, the London-based immigration solicitor specialised in asylum and human rights work has been in daily contact with refugees in Libya via messaging apps, spending much of her free time trying to expose their plight. Tranchina’s work on Libya has been covered by numerous international media, including The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, The Times, The New York Times and many others. In this interview, Tranchina discusses European efforts to keep refugees and migrants from crossing the Mediterranean and how UN agencies often fail to protect them."

24 November 2020

EU: Increasing the exchange of data between Europol and private parties: full study

The European Commission has now published a study undertaken on its behalf by Milieu Consulting. It concerns the direct exchange of personal data between Europol and private parties, in particular online service providers.

24 November 2020

Proceedings of the conference “Externalisation of borders: detention practices and denial of the right to asylum”

The event, organized by ASGI in the framework of the projects Sciabaca and Oruka, was held in Lagos, Nigeria from 25 to 27 February 2020.

24 November 2020

Frontex awards €50 million in border surveillance drone contracts to Airbus, IAI and Elbit

The EU border agency, Frontex, recently awarded contracts for border surveillance by drone to the companies Airbus, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit. For Airbus and IAI, the contracts follow on from trial flights conducted in 2018. The surveillance arrangement will see one of the three companies contracted for specific missions in response to calls from Frontex. The agency expects to seek "2000-3000 contracted hours [of surveillance] in total" every year; the deal will initially run for two years but maybe extended for two more.

24 November 2020

Greek authorities ordered pushback to Turkey, documents show

Internal emails obtained by EUobserver show that the Greek authorities ordered that a group of people be pushed back to Turkey. The case came to public attention earlier this year when a Danish coast guard vessel operating in the Aegean as part of a Frontex mission refused to carry out the orders. Despite mounting evidence, the Greek government continues to deny that its officials have ever been involved in any form of pushback, and the revelations also raise questions for EU border agency Frontex.

24 November 2020

UK: Undercover Policing Inquiry: evidence must be heard in public

The Undercover Policing Inquiry, which was set up in 2015 to investigate undercover policing operations in England & Wales since 1968, has been mired in controversy from the start. At the beginning of November, hearings finally began - but they remain shielded from public view. Despite the best efforts of campaigners to ensure that the transcripts published are made more accessible, this is no substitute for genuine public hearings, as Donal O'Driscoll demonstrates in a recent article.

24 November 2020

EU: Council's plans for Europol: mass processing of personal data, simplified cooperation with non-EU states, artificial intelligence

Member states' home affairs ministers met recently to discuss the future of Europol and adopted a ten-point document on the policing agency's role and activities. The document sets out the member states' priorities for the future of Europol - the ability to process more data, simplified cooperation with non-EU states, and more engagement with new technologies such as AI - and has now been formalised into a Council Resolution. The Commission is due to publish a new legal proposal for the agency soon, despite the current legal basis only having come into force in 2017.


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