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Statewatch is publishing the preliminary report of the working group set up by the agency's Management Board following allegations of involvement in pushbacks from Turkey to Greece. Amongst other things, the report indicates that Frontex has proposed labelling Serious Incident Reports as EU Classified Information, which would reduce transparency and, in turn, accountability.
The establishment of a new "standing corps" of border guards directly employed by Frontex was revered by the agency as a “game changer” when it was introduced in the 2019 recast of the agency’s legislation. Since then, it has been scrambling to fulfil the new staffing obligations, and the Management Board is not happy with the agency's efforts.
The Council of the EU and the European Parliament will soon begin negotiations on "e-evidence" legislation, the aim of which is to simplify law enforcement authorities' ability to access data held by digital service providers in another national jurisdiction. A preparatory document produced by the Council, published here by Statewatch, shows the differences between the two institutions' positions.
A renewed 'Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation between Afghanistan and the EU' is heading for approval by the Council of the EU. The Declaration is an informal agreement that facilitates forced removals from EU member states to Afghanistan, a country still facing conflict, violence and instability.
The EU's proposed 'Screening Regulation', published as part of the Pact on Migration and Asylum, foresees "pre-entry screening that should be applicable to all third-country nationals who are present at the external border without fulfilling the entry conditions or after disembarkation, following a search and rescue operation." Many of the provisions correspond to those introduced in Greek law in recent years, say a group of NGOs. They argue that understanding these similarities is essential for "preventing the entrenchment of failed and violent border policies in the ‘new‘ EU Pact on Migration and Asylum."
In an article for Newsweek, former Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Salahi argues that the administration of new US president Joe Biden must do what the Obama administration promised, but failed to do: close Guantanamo Bay. Forty people are still held at the facility and continue to have their human rights violated, as detailed in a new report by Amnesty International. Salahi was held in the military prison for 14 years and was eventually released in 2016. He was never charged with any crime.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is examining living conditions in four of the five "hotspots" in Greece, in which migrants and refugees are 'housed' in appalling conditions. The ECHR recently asked the Greek government a number of questions in relation to the cases, and HIAS Greece and Equal Rights Beyond Borders - representing four of the individuals with cases before the court - say they "demonstrate the structural illegality and impossibility to implement the hotspot approach and border procedures in a way that does not violate human rights," with serious implications for the ongoing attempt to introduce new EU legislation on border procedures for assessing asylum applications.
The 'Five Eyes' countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA - are perhaps best known for their role in global spying and surveillance for the purposes of "national security". However, this is not the only way in which they cooperate. A report for Radio New Zealand looks at how and why they share immigration data.
In a press release, the UNHCR calls on European states to "investigate and halt" pushbacks and violence against refugees, about which it has received a "continuous stream" of reports.
A report for the EU's European Website on Integration notes that Denmark appears to be rapidly approaching its goal of receiving no asylum-seekers whatsoever. In 2020 just over 1,500 people sought asylum in the country, the lowest number since the country's current statistical methods were introduced in 1998. The Immigration and Integration Minister cited coronavirus as one reason for this drop in numbers, but said "we can also thank our strict policy on foreigners for this."
Border Violence Monitoring Network has published its submission to a recent UN Special Rapporteur inquiry on race, borders and digital technologies. The submission highlights how "drones, thermal imaging cameras, and vehicle scanners have been weaponised against people-on-the-move, making them easier to detect and thus compounding their vulnerability and the dangers they face."
Frontex’s Management Board met on 20-21 January 2021 to discuss the preliminary report of its ‘Working Group on Fundamental Rights and Legal Operational Aspects of Operations in the Aegean Sea’. Its conclusions express concern over the agency’s compliance with the investigation.
In October 2013 more than 200 people died in a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa. Some of those who survived ended up coming ashore in Libya. They subsequently filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee, which has now ruled that Italy failed to uphold the right to life of those involved in the shipwreck.
Fabrice Leggeri, director of the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency, recently defended the continued pursuit of five-figure legal fees from two transparency activists, despite heavy criticism from MEPs.
The Italian legal organisation ASGI (Associazione Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione) has called on the Italian Court of Auditors to investigate the use of public funds for detention centres in Libyan, noting in a press release that Italian NGOs appear to have carried out "a series of actions pursuing the benefit not of the detainees but of the detention facilities".
The European Commission recently published the results of a review of the EU-Australia Passenger Name Record agreement, which governs the transfer of data on air passengers travelling between the EU and Australia to police surveillance and profiling units. One conclusion of the review is that Australia should submit more "analytical information obtained from PNR data" to EU member states and agencies.
A court in Rome has ruled that “informal readmissions” from Italy to Slovenia are unlawful, in a case concerning a Pakistani asylum seeker who was subjected to a series of violent pushbacks stretching from Italy to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
A new agreement between Frontex and Operation Irini aims to increase cooperation on "the promotion of European integrated border management standards" and "situational awareness and risk analysis". Critics are likely to question whether the agreement will support ‘pullbacks’ by the so-called Libyan coast guard.
A document recently published by the Council of the EU outlines the complex web of bilateral agreements that govern cross-border police cooperation between EU member states, which may be replaced - in part of in whole - by a proposal due later this year for a 'Police Cooperation Code.
The UK parliament's Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union has published its final report, setting out ways to ensure parliamentary scrutiny of the ongoing UK-EU relationship.
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