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Statewatch News Online,  19 January 2009 (01/09)

Home page: www.statewatch.org

1.   ITALY: Top rights official urges respect for European norms on immigration
2.   EU: Guidelines on simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence
3.   UK-IRELAND: Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill
4.   EU: agreed text on sanctions against employers of illegally staying
5.   UK: Bill to allow all state agencies to “share”/exchange personal data
6.   EU: Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council
7.   EP: Transparency: EU institutions to set an example
8.   EU: EP against taking fingerprints of children under 12 years old
9.   Roma in Europe report, 2007-2008
10. EU: EDPS: Second Opinion on ePrivacy Directive
11. EU: UN calls on EU to treat asylum seekers fairly
12. UK: how UK border controls are endangering the lives of refugees
13. EU: Access to documents Regulation
14. EU: Council questionnaire: where several Member States have legal jurisdiction
15. Portugal: Lawsuits by prison officers’ union against human rights defenders
16. EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council: Presidency Agenda
17. Spain: APDHAndalucía asks for preliminary draft immigration law reform to be withdrawn
18. EU: The End of the Road for Personal Data Protection in the EU
19. EU-USA-PNR: US Department of Homeland Security: Report
20. Germany: Unlawful “anti-terrorist” investigation into G8 activists
21  Italy: A proliferation of forbidden behaviour
22. European Ombudsman report: Public access to information in EU databases

1.  ITALY: Top rights official urges respect for European norms on immigration (link)
www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Politics/?id=3.0.2910969192

“A senior European rights official has criticised a controversial security bill approved on Wednesday by the Italian Senate which sanctions fines and immediate expulsion for illegal immigrants and imposes charges on immigrants for permits of stay and Italian citizenship.

Rights watchdog The Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg told Adnkronos International (AKI) he hopes that the centre-right government will remove such “discriminatory” measures from the bill before it becomes law.”

2. EU: Adopted version: Guidelines on the implementation of Council Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA of 18 December 2006 on simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities (118 pages):
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-guidelines-on-implementation-lea-info-exchange.pdf

3. UK-IRELAND: Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/uk-border-imm-citizenship-bill.pdf

Explanatory Notes: www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/uk-border-imm-citizenship-bill-em.pdf
Strengthening the Common Travel Area: www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/uk-ireland-consult-response.pdf

See: UK-Irish travellers to face passport checks – Tighter border controls on air and sea routes to end 80 years’ free movement (Guardian, link)
www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/jan/15/uk-irish-republic-border-passports/print

4. EU: European Parliament-Council (27 governments) agreed text on the Directive providing for minimum standards on sanctions against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals: www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-final-employer-sanctions-proposal.pdf

5. UK: Bill to allow all government departments and state agencies to “share”/exchange (transfer and use for another purpose) personal data: Coroners and Justice Bill (232 pages, see Clause 152, link):
www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmbills/009/2009009.pdf

Explanatory Memorandum (see pages 108-115, link):
www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmbills/009/en/2009009en.pdf

To try and head off objections to the official installation of the “surveillance state” the Bill includes “consultation” when a Minister makes an “order” for “information-sharing”, 21 days for the Information Commissioner to make comments which will be taken into “account” (ie: are not binding) and need “parliamentary” approval – through the passing of Statutory Instruments (SI), which are simply “nodded” through without debate. See: Whitehall departments to share personal data – Straw lifts curbs on use of  private information (Guardian, link): www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/jan/15/sharing-personal-data-whitehall/print

The Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, argues that: “you don’t want personally to give the same information again and again if it can be safely held and safely transferred.”

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

“The government’s argued is utterly flawed. On its own track record there is absolutely no guarrantee that personal data will be safely held or transferred. More to the point under data protection rules personal information provided for one purpose should not be used for another purpose – that is, to build up a highly detailed personal  lifetime profile on everyone living in the UK”

6.  EU: Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, Prague, 15-16 January 2009:
– Home Affairs press release: www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-jha-informal-lst-day-prel.pdf
– Justice issues press release: www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-jha-informal-2nd-day-prel.pdf

Programme: www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-jha-informal-programme.pdfD Documentation:

– Modern Technologies and Security:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-jha-informal-tech-security.pdf

Ministers will discuss the contradictory demands of privacy, mobility (of people) and security. There is little new in this document – other than the possibility of setting up an advisory group of experts – for full background and implications see: The Shape of Things to Come – the EU Future Group by Tony Bunyan
www.statewatch.org/analyses/the-shape-of-things-to-come.pdf

and the Observatory on “The Shape of Things to Come”: www.statewatch.org/future-group.htm

– Use of Modern Technologies in Border Control, Migration Management, and Asylum Policy:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu
-jha-informal-tech-borders.pdf

Again there is little new – see Shape of Things to Come above. What is new is the proposal that: “the check of biometric data in travel documents become a compulsory part of border checks, in view of the future system of automated checks at external borders”. This would cover EU citizens and “nationals of third countries who data are not registered in VIS” (Visa Information System) – namely people entering from the visa-free “white list” of countries like the USA. Also the checking of EU citizens’ biometric passports – which would probably entail EU citizens being fingerprinteed as they cross external borders, including presumably between the UK and the Schengen states,

– SIS II: www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-jha-informal-sis-II.pdf

SIS II (Schengen Information System) is being discussed because the new database is way behind its planned launch date of September 2009 due to a “number of blocking bugs” still giving “problems”.

– Rational Anti-Drug Policy: www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-jha-informal-drugs.pdf

– International Protection of Children: www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-jha-informal-children.pdf

– Programme of Czech Presidency in the Council of the European Union in the Area of Justice and Home Affairs (Detailed porgamme, 28 pages):
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-
jha-informal-czech-pres-programme.pdf

7. European Parliament: Transparency: EU institutions to set an example: Press release:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/
ep-transparency-resolution.pdf

Full-text of Resolution: adopted by the parliament’s plenary session (14 January) with the exception of para 19 which the PPE (Conservative group) and PSE (Socialist group) voted against: www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/
ep-transparency-resolution-text.pdf

“A report adopted by the European Parliament urges the EU institutions to do more to open up their registers and documents to the public. In the light of a recent judgment by the Court of Justice, MEPs call on the Council to hold all its debates in public and on Parliament to publish more information on its Members’ activities. The report by Marco CAPPATO (ALDE, IT) on public access to EP, Council and Commission documents was adopted with 355 votes in favour to 195 against and 18 abstentions.”

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

“This report is to be welcomed and the adoption of its recommendations would lead to much greater openness. It is worth noting that its call for the creation of a “single EU register/portal” giving the positions of the three institutions is a service that Statewatch has been providing for years”

See: SEMDOC: www.statewatch.org/semdoc/

8. EU: European Parliament votes against taking fingerprints of children under 12 years old for EU passports: EP press release:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/ep-fingerprinting-children-vote.pdf

“Children under twelve should no longer have their fingerprints included on passports issued in the European Union, the European Parliament says in a co-decision report adopted with 594 votes in favour, 51 against and 37 abstentions.”

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

“The European Parliament are to be congratulated on its firm stand against the Council proposal to take the fingerprints of children as young as six years old. This vindicates our work over the past three years in opposing this proposal.”

Background: The primary decision to have biometric (fingerprints) EU passports was taken in November 2004:

EU governments blackmail European Parliament into quick adoption of its report on biometric passports:
www.statewatch.org/news/2004/nov/
12biometric-passports-blackmail.htm

EU governments demand that the European Parliament rushes through mandatory finger-printing and biometric passports::
www.statewatch.org/news/2004/nov/10biometric-rush.htm

The adopted Regulation in the Official Journal: Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 of 13 December 2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/
eu-bio-passports-reg-2252-2004.pdf

9. Roma in Europe report, 2007-2008:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/roma-in-europe-report-2008.pdf

10. EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Second Opinion on ePrivacy Directive review and security breach: privacy safeguards need to be strengthened (Press release):
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-eprivacy-edps-opinion-prel.pdf

and Opinion: Full-text: www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-eprivacy-edps-opinion.pdf

Among the EDPS’s concerns is the:

    “processing of traffic data for security purposes: the EDPS considers the new article introduced by the Parliament – and
    maintained by the Council’s Common Position and the Commission’s Amended Proposal – legitimising the collection of traffic
    data for security purpose as being unnecessary. In the EDPS view, such a provision may be subject to risk of abuse, especially if
    adopted in a form that does not include the necessary data protection safeguards”

11. EU: UN calls on EU to treat asylum seekers fairly (euobserver, link):
euobserver.com/9/27383

12. UK: Remote controls: how UK border controls are endangering the lives of refugees: Refugee Council (link):
www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/Resources/Refugee%20Council/
downloads/researchreports/Remote%20Controls.pdf

13. EU: Access to documents Regulation: Czech Senate comes out against Commission’s definition of a “document”: Czech Senate resolution:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/
eu-access-reg-czech-senate.pdf

In response EU Commissioner Wallstrom says in a Replying letter:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-com
-czech-access-reply-wallstrom-letter.pdf

    “The definition of the concept of “document” in the proposal remains very wide. It is not intended to restrict the number of
    documents falling within the scope of the Regulation. On the one hand, it defines the point in time when a document drawn up by
    an institution becomes a “document” in the meaning of the Regulation. As long as a document is in progress, it is not yet a
    “document”; it is a “document” once it has been finalised by its author and sent to its internal or external recipients or, if it has not
    been sent to recipients, once it has been “otherwise registered”, e.g. deposited in the relevant case file.”

    Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

    “Under the Commission’s proposal only the final document would be a “document”. All the draft proposal documents would not be
    “documents”, which means that all the changes, options, discussions would be secret and hidden from public view and scrutiny.
    The lifeblood of a democracy is the ability of parliaments, civil society and citizens to know what is being discussed and to make
    their views known before the final “document” is set in stone.”

See also: UK Government does not support the Commission’s proposal to change the definition of a “document” in Article 3a of the Regulation: House of Commons: European Scrutiny Committee (See Point 6.10, link):
www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmeuleg/19-ii/1908.htm

It is also interesting to note that the Government Minister interprets the Commission’s proposed change to mean that it will exclude all “draft documents”.

For background see: Observatory: the Regulation on access to EU documents: 2008-2009:
www.statewatch.org/foi/observatory-access-reg-2008-2009.htm 

14. EU: Council questionnaire: Summary of the answers given in reply to the questionnaire on the situation where several Member States have jurisdiction to conduct criminal proceedings for the same facts of an alleged criminal offence:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-ms-criminal-trials-17553-08.pdf

15. Portugal: Lawsuits by prison officers’ union against human rights defenders – Complaint against Dores for his human rights work withdrawn:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/04portugal-aced.htm

16. EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council: Agendas under the Czech Council Presdiency, January-June 2009: Agendas (See pages 23-34):
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-jha-agendas-jan-jun-09.pdf

17. Spain: The Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía asks for the text of the preliminary draft immigration law reform to be withdrawn:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/03andalusia.htm

18. EU: The End of the Road for Personal Data Protection in the EU (Jurist, link):
jurist.law.pitt.edu/forumy/2008/11/end-of-road-for-personal-data.php

Article by Virginia Keyder who teaches European Union law at Bogazici University and Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey.

19. EU-USA-PNR: US Department of Homeland Security: Privacy Office: A report concerning Passenger Name Record information derived from flights between the US and the European Union:
www.statewatch.org/news/2008/dec/eu-us-dhs-pnr-report.pdf

Using a ludicrously small number of samples, ie, six to seven, the DHS Privacy Office found that:

– “requests for PNR took more than one year to process” – far exceeding the legal time limits in the US Privacy Act and Freedom on Information Act and there were “inconsistencies” as to which “information was redacted” (censored);

– individuals requesting “all data” are not given their PNR data;

– as a result of the majority of individuals who should have been sent their PNR data were not

– there was a large backlog of unanswered requests because of lack of staff.

For background see: Can you really see what records are kept about your travel? (Edward Hasbrouck’s blog):
hasbrouck.org/blog/archives/001595.html

and Statewatch’s Observatory on the exchange of data on passengers (PNR) with the USA:
www.statewatch.org/pnrobservatory.htm

20. Germany: Unlawful “anti-terrorist” investigation into G8 activists (Statewatch story):
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/02germany-g8.htm

21  Italy: A proliferation of forbidden behaviour (Statewatch story):
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/01italy-forbidden-behaviour.htm

22. European Ombudsman report: Public access to information in EU databases:
www.statewatch.org/news/2009/jan/eu-ombs-databases-report.pdf

For background see: Wobbing (link): www.wobsite.be/index.php?page=4&detail=450

  
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