Statewatch News Online – 1 October 2010 (17/10)

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  1. EU: Parliaments to have no say over the “harmonisation” of national ID cards
  2. EU: Schengen Information System: SIS II to hold 100 million records
  3. EU-FRONTEX: AI and ECRE: Briefing on Commission proposal
  4. USA: Government Accountability Office: Fusion centres
  5. UK: European Commission: Refer UK to Court over data protection
  6. EU: “State of play”: Directive on minimum standards and protections
  7. EU: European Commission:  Schengen: Border Guards Handbook amended
  8. EU-ROMA: Council of Europe
  10. Updated: EU-PAKISTAN: Readmission Agreement
  11. EU: Schengen: 3rd annual report on vehicle registration checks
  12. UN: Special Rapporteur report on rights and terrorism
  13. EU-ROMA: European Commission: Assesses developments
  14. FRANCE: French Immigration Bill
  15. EU-USA: SWIFT-TFTP Agreement Report: 2nd Report  by Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere
  16. USA: New power for internet interceptions
  17. EU-ROMA: Readmission agreements with Kosovo
  18. CoE: Dublin II undermines refugee rights: Human Rights Commissioner, Thomas Hammaberg
  19. EU: France and Italy press ahead with anti-Roma policies
  20. EU: EP and Council: Directive on minimum standards – international protection
  21. ECHR: Court of Human Rights hands  down an important judgment of the right of journalists to protect their sources
  22. UK-EU: Statement on European Union Bill
  23. EU-PAKISTAN: Undocumented Pakistanis face expulsion
  24. UK suspends sending asylum-seekers to Greece
  25. EU: European Commission:  Communication on Passenger Name Record (PNR) to third states
  26. EU: Speech by Commissioner Malmstrom (Home Affairs – Internal security and immigration)
  28. FRONTEX-NETHERLANDS: the Dutch position

1. EU: Parliaments to have no say over the “harmonisation” of national ID cards

The Council of the European Union: National ID cards: State of play of identity cards (EU doc no: 13152/1/10, pdf) includes chart with further details on national ID card plans. Background see: Statewatch Briefing: ID Cards in the EU: Current state of play (pdf).

The Council Presidency also proposes that as there is no legal basis to discuss “harmonisation” under the comitology procedures (Article 6 Committee) the Lisbon Treaty should be used to extend the scope of the existing False Documents Working Party. So the very same day, 14 September 2010, the Council Presidency also circulated: Presidency’s proposal regarding the activities of the Working Party on Frontiers / False Documents (EU doc no:13151/10, pdf), to extend the role of the False Documents Working Party in order to combat organised crime, “illegal” immigration and criminal activities. The Working Party will also be producing “legislative acts” in the “Mixed Committee” (the EU 27 member states plus the additional Schengen members – Norway, Switzerland and Iceland). The legal basis for this change is to be Article 77(3) of the TFEU under Lisbon whereby the Council can adopt measures concerning:

“passports, identity cards, residence permits or any other such document with a view to facilitating the freedom of movement in the territory of the Member States”

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

“Despite the general move to ordinary legislature procedure (co-decision) for the adoption of new measures jointly by the Council and the European Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty a number of policy areas retain the old bad system of simply “consulting” the parliament – and Article 77(3) is one of them.

The content (eg fingerprints) and use of data collected, processed, stored and exchanged, within the EU and outside, for passports and ID cards (citizens and resident third-country nationals) is highly controversial.

Yet in this critical area affecting peoples’ freedom and liberty the European Parliament will simply be “consulted” – asked for its opinion which on historical precedent will simply be ignored and national parliaments will have no role at all.”

2. EU: Schengen Information System: SIS II TO HOLD 100 MILLION RECORDS:
European Commission Staff Working Paper: Report on the global schedule and budget for the entry into operation of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (COM 1138, pdf). Delay after delay has put off the introduction of SIS II until 2012.

This report contains interesting information on the planned capacity of SIS II. The original specification planned for 15 million records rising to 23 million. However, the growth in the number of member states and more, importantly, the “intensive use” of the system by EU national agencies meant that by January 2010 there were already 31 million “alerts” (records). So planned starting capacity is no 70 million records growing to 100 million.

3.  EU-FRONTEX: Amnesty International (AI) and European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE): Briefing on the Commission proposal for a Regulation amending Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004 establishing a European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (FRONTEX) (pdf)

4. USA: Government Accountability Office: Information sharing: Federal Agencies Are Helping Fusion Centers Build and Sustain Capabilities and Protect Privacy, but Could Better Measure Results (pdf)

5. UK-EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Commission refers UK to Court over privacy and personal data protection (pdf)

6. EU: “State of play”: Proposal for a Directive on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection and the content of the protection granted (recast) (Latest Council position: EU doc no: 13718/10. pdf). And see European Parliament: Draft report (pdf): Rapporteur: Jean Lambert MEP.

7. EU: European Commission: Recommendation amending the Recommendation establishing a common ”Practical Handbook for Border Guards (Schengen Handbook)” to be used by Member States’ competent authorities when carrying out the border control of persons (C (2006) 5186 final) (COM 5559/10, pdf)

8. EU-ROMA: Roma expulsions are sign of ‘dangerous times’ in Europe, human rights chief says (euobserver, link): “The French Roma crisis is a sign of a “dangerous” drift to the right in European politics but also an opportunity to do “something real” for the minority, the secretary general of the Council of Europe has said in an interview with EUobserver.” See also: EU warns France of action over Roma (BBC News, link): “The European Commission has told France that it faces action over its expulsion of Roma (Gypsy) migrants if it fails to adopt EU rules on freedom of movement by 15 October.”

9. Updated: EU-USA SWIFT-TFTP AGREEMENT: MEPs demand explanation on US plan to monitor all money transfers (euobserver, link). See also: Money transfers could face anti-terrorism scrutiny (Washington Post, link). US Treasury: Financial Crimes Enforcement Network; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; Cross-Border Electronic Transmittals of Funds (pdf)

10. Updated: EU-PAKISTAN: READMISSION AGREEMENT: European Parliament: Return of illegal immigrants: Parliament backs EU accord with Pakistan (Press release, pdf). The agreement was approved by 382 to 250 votes in the parliament – the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), Greens and United Left (GUE) groups voted against. Background: Council Decision (pdf) and: Full-text of proposed agreement (pdf)

See also: Readmission agreement with Pakistan: International human rights norms respected? (link); Letter from Migreurop to the European Parliament: Readmission agreement EU-Pakistan. The European Parliament has to deny its approval (pdf), French version (link). Statewatch Briefing on the Proposed agreement and MEPs reactions (pdf)

11. EU: Schengen: Third annual report on vehicle registration checks (pdf)

12. UN: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin (pdf)

13. EU-ROMA: European Commission: European Commission assesses recent developments in France, discusses overall situation of the Roma and EU law on free movement of EU citizens (Press release, pdf) and Fundamental Rights Agency: Addressing the Roma issue in the EU: Background note (pdf)

14. FRANCE: A summary of France’s immigration bill (RFI, link): “French MPs are debating a contentious bill on Tuesday. Immigration Minister Eric Besson’s Immigration, Integration and Nationality bill has caused particular controversy, with plans to strip people of their French nationality and expel members of other European Union countries.”

15. EU-USA: SWIFT-TFTP Agreement Report: Second Report on the processing of EU-originating personal data by the US Treasury Department for counter-terrorism purposes: Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme, January 2010 (pdf) by Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere (the “European Eminent Person”). This report by the Judge took place under the previous SWIFT-TFTP agreement with the USA on the transfer of data on all financial transactions recorded by the EU-based SWIFT system. However, this report poses relevant questions for the new EU-USA Agreement: Full-text of New EU-USA Agreement on Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (Agreed in July 2010, pdf).

a. The Judge did not, and was not expected to, question who falls into the “terrorist nexus” as defined by US agencies. The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Watch List say that over 1 million people are on the US Terrorist Screening Center watch list used by the TFTP. Although comparisons are difficult to make Interpol says that“in January 2008, there were 8,479 persons suspected in database linked to terrorist activities.”

b. Nor does the Judge address the question of how many US agencies have access to TFTP reports derived from SWIFT and whether they further process them (ie: add data and comments before further circulating them). A US source told Statewatch that the default of US agencies is to “share” information both horizontally (across the Federal government) and vertically (down to state and local agencies) as set out in Bush’s Directive on the Information Sharing Environment. A recent investigation by the Washington Post found that there were 1,271 government agencies dealing with counter-terrorism, homeland security and intelligence (excluding state and local agencies): Top secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control (Washington Post, link)

c. The TFTP had produced over 1,550 reports (based on data gathered from the SWIFT-TFTP agreement) over the previous 8 years and of these 800 had been sent to non-EU governments: “To protect the original source of the information, the receiving government typically has not known that the information was derived from the TFTP.”

16. US Is Working to Ease Wiretaps on the Internet (New York Times, link):

“Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is 93going dark94 as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications – including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct 93peer to peer94 messaging like Skype – to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.”

17. EU-ROMA: Stop the repatriation of Roma to Kosovo, says Council of Europe (WAZ.euobserver, link): “Many countries (including Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Norway) have signed a “readmission agreement” with Kosovo. In the case of Germany, the government foresees the repatriation of 2,500 persons a year.”

18. Council of Europe-Dublin II: Human Rights Commissioner, Thomas Hammaberg: The 91Dublin Regulation92 undermines refugee rights (pdf):

“The asylum procedures of European countries are still flawed 96 they need to be improved and better harmonised. One of the necessary reforms is to overhaul the dysfunctional so-called Dublin Regulation within the European Union”

19. EU: France and Italy press ahead with anti-Roma policies: France: Immigration law amendment to turn expulsion of EU nationals into routine

“Following the controversy that resulted from the large-scale eviction of illegal camps and expulsion of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals from France that have largely targeted Roma people since mid-July, the French government is trying to press ahead with proposals to restrict freedom of movement and facilitate expulsions.”

and Italy: Interior Minister to press for punishment for EU nationals residing illegally

20.  EU: European Parliament draft report to LIBE (Civil Liberties) Committee on: Directive on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection and the content of the protection granted (Recast) (pdf) and Commission proposal (pdf). See also Council of the European Union’s position: – Proposal for a Directive on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection and the content of the protection granted (June 2010, pdf) and: Council’s position July 2010 (pdf)

21. ECHR: The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has handed down an important judgment of the right of journalists to protect their sources: Full-text of judgment: Case of Sanoma Uitgevers v The Netherlands (pdf): Here the Court reverses a previous ruling and said that the police cannot search premises or seize journalistic material unless they have obtained a judicial warrant. See also: European Court Ruling Bolsters Media Freedom (OSI, link)

22. UK-EU: Written Ministerial Statement on European Union Bill (pdf): “The Government will introduce a Bill which would require that:

(a) any proposed future EU treaty, agreed by all EU Member States92 governments, including the UK government, which sought to transfer areas of power or competence from the United Kingdom to the European Union would be subject to a referendum of the British people; and,

(b) the use of ratchet clauses or passerelles, provisions in the existing EU Treaties, which allow the rules of the EU to be modified or expand without the need for a formal Treaty change, would require an Act of Parliament before the Government could agree to its use.”

23. EU-PAKISTAN: Undocumented Pakistanis Face Expulsion (Inter Press Serice, link) by Dave Cronin: “Less than two months after Pakistan was devastated by one of the worst disasters in recent history, the European Union’s lawmakers have decided that Pakistanis living in the 27-country bloc without permission should be returned home. In a Sep 21 vote, the European Parliament approved a “readmission agreement” with Pakistan under which the country will be required to take back any of its nationals deemed to be “illegal immigrants” by the EU’s member states.”

24. UK suspends returns of asylum seekers to Greece (NCADC, link). See also: Council of Europe: Need to halt transfers of asylum seekers to Greece: Commissioner Hammarberg intervenes in the Strasbourg Court (pdf) and UNHCR says asylum situation in Greece is ‘a humanitarian crisis (pdf)

25. EU: European Commission: communication on the global approach to transfers of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to third countries (COM 492, pdf) and European Commission adopts an EU external strategy on Passenger Name Record (PNR) (Press release, pdf)

26. EU: Speech by Commissioner Malmstrom (Home Affairs – Internal security and immigration): Cecilia MalmstrF6m’s speech before LIBE Committee 13 September 2010 (pdf)

27. POLAND-CIA: Lawyers for Rendition Victim Intervene in Polish Investigation of CIA Black Sites (pdf): “Filing Demands that Polish Prosecutor Investigate al-Nashiri92s Illegal Transfer, Detention, and Torture on Polish Soil”

28. FRONTEX-NETHERLANDS: the Dutch position on the handling of asylum requests and the debarkation of migrants intercepted/rescued in FRONTEX Operations. This is clarified in a letter sent by the Dutch Minister of Justice to the Senate92s Chairman: Frontex-Netherlands: Full-text (translation by Matteo Tondini, pdf). The Dutch position can be summarized as follows: 1. Dutch vessels are not a part of Dutch territory; 2. Asylum requests of migrants made on board Dutch vessels must be assessed by a competent authority (not by them, however, but possibly by the host nation); 3. The Netherlands considers this as a conditio sine qua non for its participation in FRONTEX operations at sea. See also: Migrants at sea (link)

29. UK: PROFILING: ‘They asked me where Bin Laden was, then they took my DNA’ – Fears of racial profiling after rise in number of British Muslims held by border officials (Independent, link): “Hundreds of British Muslims leaving and returning from holidays abroad face harassment and intimidation by security forces when they pass through UK airports and seaports, an investigation by The Independent has found.”

Statewatch: Monitoring the state and civil liberties in Europe
PO Box 1516, London, N16 0EW. UK tel: +44(0)20-8802-1882; fax: +44(0)20-8880-1727

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