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.

27 February 2023

EU: Eurodac and Joint Investigation Teams: four-column documents ready for secret trilogues

The European Parliament and the Council of the EU will soon enter secret trilogue negotiations on two new pieces of legislation: Eurodac, the database on asylum-seekers that is being massively expanded to encompass people in an irregular migration situation; and a collaboration platform for Joint Investigation Teams working on cross-border criminal cases.

23 February 2023

Exceptions, loopholes and carve-outs: Presidency wants “internal security needs” recognized in EU digital policies

The growing number of EU digital policies should “benefit” justice and home affairs actors whilst “addressing and minimizing the associated risks,” the Swedish Presidency of the Council argues in a recent discussion paper. The Council’s internal security committee, COSI, should continue to “monitor and discuss” relevant legal proposals to create “a positive narrative… on the justice and internal security needs related to technological development and digitalization,” says the document.

22 February 2023

Arbitrary arrests and hate campaigns against sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia

Press release originally published by the Forum Tunisien des Droits Economiques et Sociaux (FTDES) on 16 February.

16 February 2023

"Police have crossed the line": Statement on police infiltration in social movements in recent years in Barcelona

Following recent revelations about undercover police officers infilitrating social mvoements by using sexual and intimate relationships as cover, 88 organisations - including Statewatch - have joined a statement initiated by the legal centre Irídia calling for a "thorough, effective and independent investigation" and for an end to "any further police operations of a similar nature". Two undercover officers have been unmasked in Barcelona in the last nine months, and more recently another was outed in Valencia. Referring to similar cases in the UK, the statement notes that "the infiltration of police officers into social and political movements is a practice that has also been used in other countries."

13 February 2023

EU: Deportations organized on the basis of “social media profiles”?

Thirteen non-EU countries sometimes accept "social media profiles and phone contacts" as evidence of identity for the purpose of deportations, according to an internal Commission assessment of third country cooperation on readmission. The assessment, which is produced annually, is used to determine where and how to apply pressure on third states not deemed to be sufficiently cooperative with deportations from EU member states.

07 February 2023

Eight states appeal to European Council: more fortification, deportation, externalisation, and "strategic communication"

The call comes in a letter signed by the prime ministers of Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Latvia and Slovakia that argues "the current asylum system is broken and primarily benefits the cynical human smugglers who take advantage of the misfortune of women, men and children."

07 February 2023

EU preparing new efforts to increase Libyan border controls

A draft “action file on Libya” is circulating within the Council of the EU. A version from January obtained by Statewatch indicates that there will be a fresh push to improve the ability of authorities in Libya to control the country’s southern borders and to prevent refugees from leaving the country by sea.

06 February 2023

EU: Interoperable migration and police databases: a data trove for Frontex

The EU’s border agency, Frontex, will be able to access vast quantities of data once the EU’s ‘interoperable’ policing and migration databases are fully operational. In particular, its access to extensive new sets of statistics is intended to increase the detail, influence and reach of its risk analyses and policy recommendations.

04 February 2023

Tarajal Manifesto 2023: justice for the dead

Today, the 10th March For Dignity will take place in Ceuta to commemorate and demand justice for the 14 people who died attempting to cross the border into Spain on 6 February 2014. The Tarajal Manifesto 2023 has been produced to mark the occasion.

02 February 2023

“If I had known he was in the police, I would never have got involved with him.”

Clara is an anarchist activist, member of La Cinètika and involved in the scout movement. She was in a year-long relationship with Daniel Hernández Pons, recently unmasked as an undercover police officer infilitrating social movements in Barcelona.

02 February 2023

Second undercover police officer spying on Barcelona activists unmasked

An officer of the Spanish National Police Corps infiltrated activist groups in Barcelona over a three-year period, joining the social centre La Cinétika in 2020 and initiating sexual relationships with women that facilitated his participation in assemblies, events and demonstrations.

31 January 2023

EU: Tracking the Pact: Only 207 refugees relocated so far via “voluntary solidarity mechanism”

The solidarity is voluntary, and there’s not enough of it to go around. Six months ago the EU established a “voluntary solidarity mechanism” for relocating refugees from states such as Italy, Greece and Malta. Now an internal Commission paper states that the entire scheme could be in jeopardy due to a failure by other EU member states to actually accept people for relocation. So far, only 207 people have benefited from the scheme.

31 January 2023

"Increased external action" against migration: draft European Council conclusions

On 9 and 10 February the European Council will meet to approve conclusions on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the economy and migration. A draft version of the conclusions, published here, reinforces longstanding calls to increase the externalisation of migration controls.

30 January 2023

Public hearing at Dutch court over police surveillance of activist

Frank van der Linde is a Dutch political activist who has spent five years trying to find out exactly what information the police hold on him and why. On 30 March, he will ask the Court of Amsterdam to order an external independent institution to carry out a forensic examination of the Dutch police database, with the aim of guaranteeing his right to access his personal data. The ruling will have an impact not just in the Netherlands but across the EU.

30 January 2023

UK: Draconian anti-strike legislation is unnecessary and gives vast power to government ministers

The UK government's proposed Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill is being rushed through parliament. It will allow the government to force employees in certain public roles to go to work through the imposition of "work notices" when faced with strike action. A letter to the Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Grant Schapps, calls for a halt to the "plans for an unwarranted curtailment of freedom of assembly and association." Coordinated by Liberty, it has been signed by 50 organisations, including Statewatch.

30 January 2023

UK: Police and intelligence agencies to increase joint work, with reduced privacy safeguards

The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill will degrade privacy and data protection safeguards in policing. Under certain conditions, law enforcement agencies (LEAs) will be able to circumvent rights protections by acting with the same powers as intelligence agencies. Laws safeguarding personal data during transfers will be diluted and the means for oversight will be significantly reduced.

25 January 2023

EU: Travel surveillance: member state comments on "improving compliance" with court ruling

Last June the EU's Court of Justice massively restricted the scope of the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive, which allows the mass surveillance and profiling of air passengers. According to the ruling, member states should make substantial changes to their practices in order to uphold fundamental rights. Instead, they would like to find ways to maintain maximum data collection to continue the hunt for "persons of interest" - yet such practices are incompatible with the rule of law.

24 January 2023

Council of Europe Convention on Artificial Intelligence: zero draft and member state submissions

The Council of Europe is working on a Convention on Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. Drafting is ongoing on what will be the first international convention on the issue of AI. Civil society organisations have been excluded from the process at the behest of the USA. We are publishing the “zero draft” of the Convention, the draft risk assessment methodology and comments on the draft from a number of member states, Council of Europe committees, corporations and civil society groups.

24 January 2023

UK: Stop the Public Order Bill

Having failed to get through a number of anti-protest measures in last year's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act, the government is now seeking to put them on the books through the Public Order Bill, which is being discussed in the House of Lords. A new briefing drafted by Liberty and signed by 74 civil society organisations, including Statewatch, calls on peers "to defend protest rights and support amendments to mitigate the Public Order Bill’s worst effects." These include "Serious Disruption Prevention Orders" that would make it possible "to ban named individuals from protesting, associating with certain people at certain times, and even using the internet in certain ways."

23 January 2023

Tracking the Pact: Unaccountable new decision-making bodies and "adaptable responsibility"

The latest Council draft of the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation (AMMR) includes a substantial number of changes, including the introduction of the concept of "adaptable responsibility" and an array of new bodies dominated by the member states intended to govern the implementation of EU migration policy.


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