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.
Statewatch is publishing a Council document setting out the German Presidency's thoughts and proposals on the proposed Regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online. The Council and Parliament are currently holding secret "trilogue" discussions and it is expected that the text of the Regulation - which contains some highly-controversial measures, for example on automated filtering of uploads - will be agreed soon. Member states have been applying renewed pressure on the EP to finalise the rules, following terrorist attacks in Paris and Austria.
"A new French security bill proposes to forbid the dissemination for “malicious purposes” of images of police officers doing their jobs. Supporters of the legislation say it would protect officers from malevolent personal attacks using social media. Detractors say it threatens to make it harder for journalists and NGOs to report on police wrongdoing."
EU justice and home affairs ministers recently adopted a statement in response to the recent terrorist attacks in France and Austria. It asserts a need "to combat all forms of violence which target people on the basis of their actual or supposed ethnic origin, or their religious belief or on the basis of other types of prejudice," and then goes on to single out migrants (explicitly) and Muslims (implicitly) as a problem, whilst demanding more of the same security measures that have been developed over the last 30 years. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and French President Emmanuel Macron have both recently made very clear statements about the need to suppress "political Islam".
A new campaign is calling for a ban on live facial recognition in public places. The #ReclaimYourFace campaign is building on existing national successes in Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Serbia. The call comes as the EU is moving towards publishing proposals for new rules on the use of artificial intelligence.
A six-year old boy recently drowned after a boat on which he was travelling ran into trouble off the coast of Samos. The Greek authorities are charging his father with "suspicion of endangering a life" and he could face ten years in prison. The pilot of the boat was also arrested, on smuggling charges, "a ridiculous charge as nearly all those who steer the boats are those who cannot afford to pay the full fare".
DW report on a new study conducted by a team of criminologists at the University of Bochum. The main conclusion is that "people from ethnic minorities are structurally disadvantaged by the police." Police violence is experienced by many people in Germany, including at demonstrations and other mass events. However, members of ethnic minorities often experience brutality elsewhere, and a lack of evidence makes it difficult to bring complaints or prosecutions.
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, has published a set of reports showing how the children’s residential social care system is broken and is failing many of the most vulnerable children, in particular those who are most at risk of falling through gaps in the system and becoming victims of criminal or sexual exploitation. Today’s reports are the start of a series of interventions by the Children’s Commissioner this month on the issue of children’s social care.
A new report by the Network for Police Monitoring looks at the policing of the Black Lives Matter protests in the UK that arose following the killing of George Floyd in the USA. "Netpol concludes that the policing of these protests was institutionally racist."
A set of draft Council Conclusions on internal security and a Joint Statement responding to recent terrorist attacks in France and Austria (the latter now approved by member states' representatives) call for boosting the powers of policing, security and border agencies. Increased access to information for frontline police officers, the use of artifical intelligence for law enforcement, and further calls to undermine encryption are featured in both documents.
Official documents obtained by Privacy International (PI) show the extent to which EU aid and development funds are being used to enhance states' surveillance capabilities and coercive powers. This includes internet monitoring, wiretapping tools, and national biometric systems designed to bolster the EU's ability to deport people. PI along with 13 other civil society organisations from Africa and Europe, including Statewatch, are calling for change.
The report calls on the government to "urgently take action to protect the human rights of Black people, including within healthcare, criminal justice, nationality and immigration and democracy."
On 22 October, the European Commission gave a presentation to an "informal videoconference" of the Council's Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA). The presentation explains the different types of "solidarity" that will be available for member states under the proposed Asylum and Migration Management Regulation, such as relocation of asylum applicants and "return sponsorship".
The UK parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a scrutiny report of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill. The Committee recommends a number of changes, including clear limits on the crimes that may be committed during undercover/covert activity and specification of who may commit criminal acts, amongst other things.
Three recent studies commissioned by the European Parliament.
Plans to increase police presence in schools have caused disquiet amongst pupils, parents and campaigners. Police officers were introduced to schools in 2002 as part of the "tough on crime" agenda introduced by New Labour and have stayed ever since. They are known as "school based police officers" (SBPOs).
Ever since 2014, when the Court of Justice of the EU struck down the Data Retention Directive - which required the mandatory retention of telecommunications metadata by service providers, in case it was of interest to law enforcement authorities - member states have been keen to reintroduce an EU-wide retention obligation. The Commission's position has varied over time. A recent study carried out for the Commission, following a request from the Council, looks at the situation in 10 member states and aims to contribute to the arguments for a new EU regime.
The European Parliament's research service has produced a substitute impact assessment for proposed additional rules for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). Amongst other things, it finds that the proposal to check applicants for travel authorisations against a criminal records system is "a serious interference" with privacy and data protection. The ETIAS was examined in detail in a recent Statewatch publication, Automated Suspicion.
The government's visa rules are having a significant impact upon peoples' lives in the midst of the pandemic, and are reportedly taking heavy toll on the workforce in the health service, where almost 14% of staff are not British nationals.
Open letter on the proposed Regulation on Terrorist Content Online, coordinated by Liberties. Signed by 16 organisations including Statewatch.
A week of action against the EU's new Pact on Migration and Asylum is taking place this week, led by the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal on Violations of the Rights of Migrant and Refugee People and Europe Must Act. The groups are calling for a Global Solidarity Pact in place of the EU's Migration Pact, to halt the criminalisation of migrants and to ensured the rights and dignity of all people. Due to the pandemic, most actions will take place online, but some 'real-life' activities are planned.
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