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The EU’s Pact on Migration and Asylum reiterated the long-standing priority for the EU and its member states to work more closely with “third countries” to control migration. In practice, this has led to serious abuses and even deaths, as smugglers engage in increasingly-complex and dangerous circumvention of border controls and police operations. Nevertheless, the EU is pushing ahead with new initiatives seeking to formalise cooperation with Balkan and African states on anti-migrant smuggling operations.
On Monday 26 October we will hold the second in our series of webinars exploring the report 'Deportation Union: Rights, accountability and the EU's push to increased forced removals'.
On 6 October 2020, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled in two separate cases (concerning the UK, and France and Belgium) that mass surveillance by national security agencies - here, the mass retention and collection of telecommunications data - is not in line with EU law, and that only certain types of limited data retention schemes with adequate safeguards are permissible.
Two recent Amnesty International reports have highlighted the role played by EU institutions, agencies and member states in facilitating 'pull-backs' by the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG). Amnesty argues that collaboration with the LCG in this way violates international law. In a response to Amnesty, Frontex has avoided any meaningful engagement with the issues raised.
The government's ongoing rhetoric against "activist lawyers" - which seems to be spearheaded, in particular, by the Home Office - has led to a physical attack at a law firm, legal professionals claim. Last month, a man entered a London law firm's office with a knife and managed to injure one member of staff in a racist attack, before being overpowered.
Legal Centre Lesvos reports on the situation following the fire that destroyed the Moria camp three weeks ago. Grassroots initiatives are being targeted and shut down, and a new, closed camp has been set up. Nevertheless, the organisation reports some succeses with individual cases.
A former president of the Supreme Court has warned that certain provisions in the Internal Market Bill put the UK on a path towards "dictatorship", due to the explicit intention to breach international law and make it possible for the government to introduce regulations that are not subject to review by the courts.
Criminal proceedings in Italy are ongoing against the crew of the rescue boat Iuventa and the former captain of rescue boat Sea-Watch 3. A UN human rights expert says the charges should be dropped, because those saving lives at sea are "human rights defenders and not criminals."
Europol is unlawfully processing the personal data of a vast number of innocent people, says a report by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). The agency has been given two months to come up with an “action plan” to fix the problem – but in the meantime, despite the serious risks to individual rights identified by the EDPS, the agency is allowed to continue using the techniques.
A report by Germany's domestic intelligence agency (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV) has detailed hundreds of anti-constitutional far-right incidents in the police and the military, yet the country's interior minister has apparently sought to downplay the significance of the findings.
At the end of a five year trial, a Greek court has found senior members of neo-fascist party Golden Dawn guilty of running a criminal organisation. Party members were also found guilty of the 2013 murder of the rapper Pavlos Fyssas, physical attacks on trade unionists and the attempted murder of a fisherman.
The Greek police recruited two undocumented migrants as informers in an operation which has led to multiple accusations of criminality against a number of NGOs, whom the police argue have assisted in migrant smuggling. According to a report in Greek paper Kathimerini, the investigation revolves around the use of the AlarmPhone service - which exists precisely to help to people in distress at sea, and whose work has saved thousands of lives in recent years.
The Metropolitan Police have paid a "substantial sum" in compensation to a man who found out when he was 26 that his father was Bob Lambert, a notorious undercover police officer. He had grown up believing that his father was a left-wing activist who had fled abroad. His mother became aware of Lambert's real identity at the same time as her son, after reading about Lambert in the papers. The Met previously paid her £425,000 in compensation due to the trauma she suffered.
According to a report originally published in The Telegraph, the French authorities have turned down a UK offer of drones assistance to try to prevent departures of boats trying to cross the Channel. However, it is unclear from the report whether the UK authorities sought to lend the drone itself to the French, or instead wanted access to French airspace to monitor beaches.
Prisoners held in the Armagh and H-Block prisons between 1976 and 1981 were subjected to "systemic inhuman and degrading treatment" that "violated international human rights standards and breached common law and statute", with the full knowledge of the British government, an independent inquiry has found.
40 organisations, including Statewatch, have written to the European Commission calling for a ban on blanket telecommunications data retention. Judgments in a number of cases concerning data retention are due to be handed down by the Court of Justice today. The Commissioner for Home Affairs has previously expressed a desire for new legislation on the issue, and the member states have long been keen on new EU-wide measures.
A joint statement signed by 70+ NGOs and human rights organisations from across Europe and beyond.
The Grenfell Inquiry, which is investigating the fire that killed 72 people in the Grenfell Tower block of flats in west London in June 2017, heard in mid-September that "emails, documents and design drawings" relating to the refurbishment of the tower with flammable cladding may have been "lost forever".
A study commissioned by the European Parliament's Women's Rights and Gender Equality committee (FEMM), looking at the EU's response to the 'Global Gag Rule', which "blocks US aid funds for organizations or groups that perform abortion services, provide information about sexual and reproductive health rights, and advocate for abortion."
A major operation involving judicial and law enforcement authorities from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, supported by Europol and Eurojust, led to the dismantling of a large network of criminals smuggling migrants in life threatening conditions across the English Channel.
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