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.

26 January 2021

EU to Australia: send us your travel surveillance data

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.

26 January 2021

When informal means illegal: Italian interior ministry guilty of pushbacks to Slovenia

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.

25 January 2021

EU: Agreement between Frontex and Mediterranean military force: cooperation on pullbacks to Libya?

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.

25 January 2021

EU: Compendium of bilateral agreements on police cooperation

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.

25 January 2021

Brexit: MPs call for ongoing parliamentary scrutiny of UK-EU relationship

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.

25 January 2021

Brexit: Commission answers to EU member state questions on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement

The rushed entry into force of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on 31 December 2020 left a lot of questions unanswered, as made clear by a 300-page document circulated amongst EU member states and published today by Statewatch.

21 January 2021

EU: Encryption and facial recognition amongst upcoming internal security priorities

The issues of encryption and discussions on a pan-EU police facial recognition database are high on the Portuguese Presidency's security agenda over the next six months, according to a presentation obtained by Statewatch that was given to the steering group of the Council of the EU's working party on internal security.

21 January 2021

Shipwreck off Libya claims over 40 lives

Press release published by the IOM and UNHCR, 20 January 2021. The first known shipwreck in the Mediterranean this year has claimed the lives of 43 people.

21 January 2021

European Parliament Think Tank: briefings on counter-terrorism, migrant smuggling, search and rescue

The European Parliament Think Tank has recently published new briefings on a number of key topics: understanding EU counter-terrorism policy, EU action against migrant smuggling and search and rescue in the Mediterranean.

21 January 2021

State xenophobia and criminalisation of solidarity in Cyprus: KISA is again under attack by government

Communiqué from the Migreurop network on the deregistration of the Cypriot anti-racist NGO KISA. The organisation was removed from the country's register of NGOs, accused of not complying with administrative procedures. However, the organisation has repeatedly been subject to the hostility of the government and officials.

19 January 2021

EU: New transparency obligations for justice and home affairs agencies following Statewatch complaints

A new transparency framework for EU justice and home affairs agencies has been laid down by the European Ombudsman, in response to complaints from Statewatch that highlighted the failure of Europol and Frontex to meet their legal obligations under EU rules on public access to documents.

18 January 2021

EU: Frontex director accused of misleading parliament over fundamental rights obligations

Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri has been accused by a senior European Commission official of making statements “in a misleading manner” at a parliamentary hearing in December, when MEPs questioned him over the agency’s alleged role in pushbacks and the new fundamental rights monitoring framework included in 2019 legislation.

18 January 2021

Immigration and asylum round-up: 8 December 2020 - 18 January 2021

Including: EU: Renewed deportation agreement with Afghanistan close to approval / Greece: Legal actors express serious concerns regarding the lack of state free legal aid for asylum applicants in Lesvos / Death on the Central Mediterranean: 2013-2020 / EU: The 'Black Book of Pushbacks': testimonies of pushbacks affecting over 12,000 people / Mediterranean: Nine new legal proceedings against civil search and rescue ships since June 2020

15 January 2021

Frontex and pushbacks: Management Board decision setting up the working group to investigate

The 'Management Board Working Group on Fundamental Rights and Legal and Operational Aspects of Operations' will be made up of representatives of Germany; Greece, Hungary, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, France, and the European Commission.

15 January 2021

EU: Frontex, EASO and Europol: Presentations on migration and asylum trends in 2020/21

Statewatch is publishing three slideshows presented at a meeting of the Council of the EU's JHA Counsellors working party on 11 January. Produced by the EU agencies Frontex, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Europol, they give the agencies' impression of migration, asylum and migrant smuggling trends in 2020, and what may come in the year ahead.

14 January 2021

EU: Renewed deportation agreement with Afghanistan close to approval

The EU is close to adopting a renewed agreement with Afghanistan to facilitate further deportations to the war-torn country. A note from the Commission to the Council, dated 13 January, says "all requests made by Member States" are included in the new Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation.

14 January 2021

EU: Council seeks response to Parliament's "e-evidence" proposals

New EU legislation on "e-evidence" would make it simpler for law enforcement authorities to obtain information from digital service providers operating in a different country, for use in criminal investigations. The proposals have been under discussion for some time within the Council and the Parliament, and the two institutions are due to start negotiations soon. The Parliament is calling for significant changes to the structure and content of the legislation, and now the Portuguese Presidency is developing a response to the Parliament's proposals.

14 January 2021

Court of Justice: Impermissible to put forced removal of minors 'on hold' to sidestep safeguards

The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has ruled that EU member states wishing to deport minors must verify that adequate reception facilities exist in the destination state, and that they cannot sidestep this requirement by issuing a removal order against a minor but only seeking to enforce the decision when they become an adult, when those safeguards no longer apply. The ruling comes after a court in the Netherlands, faced with an appeal by an individual handed a removal order as a minor but facing enforcement of the order as an adult, asked the CJEU to provide an interpretation of the relevant provisions of the EU Return Directive.

14 January 2021

Germany: Data-mining of joint police-intelligence system ruled unlawful

In December, Germany's Federal Constitutional Court published a November ruling which found that legislation allowing police forces and intelligence agencies to engage in the "mining" of a joint database is unconstitutional. The Court ruled that the legislation in force did not meet a number of requirements that would make such actions permissible, namely: the existence of "a sufficiently identifiable danger" in the case of "averting dangers to public security"; for undertaking intelligence analysis, "investigating a specific action or group that warrants surveillance by intelligence services in the individual case"; and for law enforcement purposes, "a suspicion based on specific facts must exist in respect of which specific circumstances have taken shape that support the suspicion."

14 January 2021

Refugees in Greece: call for action to prevent homelessness and destitution for thousands during winter

In a statement published on 22 December, over 70 civil society organisations have called on the Greek government to ensure that refugees in Greece are protected during the winter months. They are demanding a halt to evictions, "a lasting strategy for social security and integration," and ongoing dialogue and discussion with civil society to ensure meaningful integration and inclusion.


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