Statewatch News Online, 13 May 2019 (12/19)

13 May 2019 — Statewatch

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STATEWATCH NEWS

1.    Mytilene, Greece: Peaceful demonstration and the human right to freedom of assembly prevails
2.    EU: Frontex gets ready to deploy to the Balkans
3.    EU: Construction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)
4.    EU criminal law could cover “crimes relating to artificial intelligence”
5.    EU: The human rights monitoring ship Mare Liberum is being prevented from leaving port
6.    Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 
7.    EU: Common European Asylum System: deadlock in the Council
8.    ECHR: Terrorism convict can be deported from France to Algeria without any ri

NEWS

1.    Is police use of facial recognition technology lawless and racist?
2.    Hungary stems migrant flow, but issue remains big in EU vote
3.    When witnesses won t be silenced: citizens solidarity and criminalisation
4.    EU heads adopt vague declaration on future of Europe
5.    UK: Black people 40 times more likely to be stopped and searched in UK
6.    ITALY: Warehousing Asylum Seekers: Salvini s Attempt to Dismantle Italian Reception System 
7.    UK-ITALY: Firefighters protest prison for rescuing refugees 
8.    New EU laws on e-evidence are being negotiated but what about human rights?
9.    Montenegro jails anti-Nato coup plotters 
10.  GREECE: Trial of Sapfous 122 Today in Mytilene 
11.  UK: Construction firms in lawsuit over £55m payout to blacklisted trade unionists 
12.  GREECE: Refugee, volunteer, prisoner: Sarah Mardini and Europe’s hardening line on migration 
13.  French police watchdog to investigate ‘truncheon rape’ video 
14.  IRELAND: Lawyers or prisoners could launch legal action over reports of prison surveillance 
15.  Are You Syrious (6.5.19)
16.  Turkey holds thousands in solitary in Erdogan’s prisons 
17.  Libyan Prime Minister brings message of migration increase to Europe
18.  EU-TURKEY: A shameful bureaucratic development in 2016
19.  UK: Britons most positive in Europe on benefits of immigration – Findings contradict assumptions
20.  Libya coast guard detains 113 migrants during lull in fighting
21.  European Border And Coast Guard First agreement with a non EU country operational
22.  UK: Immigration officers accused of racial profiling as they stop thousands of British citizens 
23.  UK: Undercover police to have fake identities hidden at inquiry
24.  ITALY: Digital Identity in the Migration & Refugee Context 
25.  UK: New figures reveal postcode lottery in imprisonment rates for women in England and Wales
26.  In borderless Europe, security chiefs unite against jihadist threat 
27.  UK: Reclaim Citizenship To Reclaim Our Human Rights : Call For End To Hostile Environment 
28.  Rendition: UK spent £11m of public money fighting Libya rendition case
29.  Turkish asylum seekers attacked by masked men, pushed back from Evros shore
30.  Are You Syrious: Daily Digest 29/4/19: Another Ship in Distress Ignored & More Police Violence
31. Germany faces ‘civil war’ threat from rising far-right groups
32.  Slovak top court rejects bid to ban far-right party 
33. ‘Political predators preying on migration crisis,’ says EU top job candidate Timmermans
34.  Julian Assange’s legal battles have only just begun 
35.  UK: Launch of the National Mikey Powell Memorial Family Fund
36.  New EU Directive on Whistleblower Protection
37.  Detention, Insecurity, Rights Deprivation Legal Crackdown on Asylum Seekers in Germany
38.  FAR-RIGHT: Vox enters Congress for the first time but falls short of expectations 
39.  European governments targeting of migrant solidarity activists for prosecution must stop,
40.  France delivers boats to Libya: NGOs demand justice! 

DOCUMENTATION

1.   GREECE: April 2019 Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos 
2.   Greece: Lesvos: Lest we forget: Memorial for the Dead of the European Borders
3.   European Parliament Analysis: Robots in healthcare: a solution or a problem? 
4.   Statewatch Observatory: Creation of a centralised Justice & Home Affairs database (Updated)
5.  Global Detention Project Annual Report 2018 
6.  IRELAND: Legislation to codify arrest, search and detention powers coming to Cabinet this year 
7.  Council of the European Union: Counter Terrorism

STATEWATCH NEWS

1.  PRESS RELEASE: Mytilene, Greece: Peaceful demonstration and the human right to freedom of assembly prevails

10 May 2019

“Yesterday, 9 April 2019, in the Misdemeanours Court of Mytilene, the 110 on trial for resistance against authorities, rioting, and illegal occupation of public property were found not-guilty of all charges against them.

The charges were brought last year, after a peaceful sit-in of approximately 180 refugees took place in a small part of Sappho Square in the centre of Mytilene, Lesvos, between April 17- 23, 2018, in protest against poor living conditions in Moria Camp, lack of medical care and access to health services, imprisonment on the island and the long delay in their asylum process. The trigger of the mobilisation was the hospitalisation and death of an Afghan asylum seeker with serious health problems.”

2.  EU: Frontex gets ready to deploy to the Balkans

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, is preparing to deploy officers to Albania at the end of May for an operation at the Greek-Albanian border, despite a drop in the number of illegal border-crossings detected by the agency last year.

An operational plan is in the works and a recently-published tender shows that the agency hopes to deploy five “full furnished mobile offices” to the country for one year. Frontex also plans to deploy similar offices for operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia.

3.  EU: Construction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS): progress reports from Frontex and Europol

Frontex and Europol have submitted reports to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU outlining progress in the construction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), a ‘travel permission’ system akin to the US ESTA, the legislation for which was approved in September 2018.

4. EU criminal law could cover “crimes relating to artificial intelligence”

The Member States have been discussing future possibilities for EU criminal law (Council document 7910/19, pdf), and one issue to be considered is “crimes relating to artifical intelligence, subject to further defining the issue at stake.”

5.  EU: The human rights monitoring ship Mare Liberum is being prevented from leaving port

Germany s Federal Ministry of Transportation (Bundesverkehrsministeriums) sent an order of suspension for the ship Mare Liberum to the German association of traffic and transportation (Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehr)–which handles the registration, licenses and flags for ships–to further scrutinize civil rescue vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.

6.  Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16-29.4.19) including:

  • France delivers boats to Libya: NGOs demand justice!
  • Case filed against Greece at ECHR over crackdown on humanitarian groups
  • European governments’ targeting of migrant solidarity activists must stop
  • Legal crackdown on asylum seekers in Germany
  • Starving in Hungary’s transit zones

7.  EU: Common European Asylum System: deadlock in the Council as “frontline” Member States oppose mandatory “border procedures”

Council discussions on controversial proposals for dealing with asylum applications at the external borders of the EU hit a wall recently, with “a large majority” of Member States who favour tougher measures facing opposition from those on the “frontline”. Member States’ diplomatic representatives were called upon to try to reach a resolution, but the Council is remaining tight-lipped on the outcome of those discussions.

8.  ECHR: Terrorism convict can be deported from France to Algeria without any risk of inhuman or degrading treatment, ECHR rules

The case concerns the applicant s planned deportation to Algeria after he was convicted in France in 2015 for participating in acts of terrorism and was permanently banned from French territory.

The Court found that the general situation in Algeria as regards the treatment of individuals linked to terrorism did not in itself preclude the applicant s deportation.

NEWS

1.  Is police use of facial recognition technology lawless and racist? (/lacuna.org.uk, link):

“Over the last four years police have been trialling facial recognition technology across England and Wales, but critics claim it s more than 90% inaccurate and studies of similar software found it to be racially biased. So why are police continuing to use it?”

2.  Hungary stems migrant flow, but issue remains big in EU vote (AP, link):

“Hundreds of migrants a day streamed through the Hungarian village of Asotthalom on their way to Western Europe in 2015. Today there are almost none. So one might think the political discourse has moved on.

Think again.”

3.  When witnesses won t be silenced: citizens solidarity and criminalisation (IRR News, link):

“When witnesses won t be silenced: citizens solidarity and criminalisation is a free downloadable briefing paper that looks at the dramatic increase in prosecutions from European states on humanitarian activists for their acts of solidarity with and assistance of displaced people. ”

Download report here (link)

4.  EU heads adopt vague declaration on future of Europe (euractiv, link):

“Heads of state and government from the EU-27 signed off on broad-brush ten commitments for Europe s next five years on Thursday (9 May), as they adopted a vague Sibiu Declaration during the opening stages of an informal summit dedicated to the bloc s future.”

5.  UK: Black people 40 times more likely to be stopped and searched in UK (The Guardian, link):

“Black people in England and Wales are 40 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched under controversial powers that home secretary Sajid Javid recently made it easier for officers to use.

The analysis is based on Home Office internal data, which means Javid is likely to have known of the discriminatory impact when he gave the police greater powers last month to use section 60 checks. The power allows officers to search anyone in a defined area for a limited period if serious violence is anticipated.

Last week, Cressida Dick, head of the Metropolitan police, launched a defence of stop and search, arguing it had reduced the murder rate in the capital by a quarter over the past year.”

6.  ITALY: Warehousing Asylum Seekers: Salvini s Attempt to Dismantle the Italian Reception System (Border Criminologies, link):

“On 1st December 2018, the Italian Parliament converted into law the controversial decree no. 113/2018 on security and immigration (so-called Salvini decree ). The new legislative act, Law no. 132, amends substantially national asylum policies, by introducing several restrictive changes that pertain to residence permits, the reception system, detention, cessation of protection, safe country of origin, manifestly unfounded asylum claims and subsequent asylum applications. This raft of measures is in line with the political strategy of the current Minister of Interior, Matteo Salvini, who based most of his electoral campaign on the fight against migrants.”

7.  UK-ITALY: Firefighters protest prison for rescuing refugees (Fire Brigades Union, link):

“UK firefighters will protest outside the Italian embassy in London today, on Europe Day, in support of a Spanish firefighter facing prison for rescuing refugees. Fire Brigades Union (FBU) activists will call on the Italian government to drop its investigation and end its anti-migrant crusade.

Spanish firefighter Miguel Roldan faces 20 years in prison for helping to rescue drowning refugees in the Mediterranean. Italian authorities have accused him of aiding illegal immigration and working with human traffickers, amidst pressure from far-right politician Matteo Salvini.”

8.  New EU laws on e-evidence are being negotiated but what about human rights? (Fair Trials, link):

“In the final weeks of the European Parliament, the LIBE Committee has produced a new working document on the Proposal for a Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters.

The purpose of the working paper was to address the issue of the enforcement of European Production Orders, and European Preservation Orders, as well as consider possible remedies and safeguards in their use. The report reflects recommendations made by Fair Trials.

Increased efficiency in cross-border electronic data exchange could help to protect fair trial rights and serve the interests of the defence as well as victims. However, benefits will only be possible if key safeguards are incorporated into the new mechanisms. The new laws are a key opportunity to set high standards and set an example in upholding the fairness of criminal proceedings.”

9.  Montenegro jails anti-Nato coup plotters (EUobserver, link):

“Two Russian men, said to be intelligence officers, were jailed for 14 and 15 years, and two pro-Russian opposition politicians were jailed for five years, by a court in Montenegro on Thursday for their role in a failed coup in 2016 designed to stop the now Nato member from joining the Western alliance. Ten others, including several Serb nationals, a Montenegrin police chief, and an anti-Nato activist were also jailed.”

10.  GREECE: Trial of Sapfous 122 Today in Mytilene (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):

“Today 122 people are on trial in Mytilene, Lesvos, after being arrested in the early morning of 23 April 2018. They are charged with resisting arrest, rioting, and illegal occupation of public property. If convicted they could be imprisoned for two years. In the days prior to their arrest last year, 100-200 refugees and migrants who had been living in the notorious Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, gathered in Sapfous Square, the main square in town, to protest lack of access to medical care, horrible conditions, and delayed asylum procedures that kept them prisoners on the island.

After less than a week of their peaceful protest, on the night of 22 April 2018, they were attacked by a far-right mob. In this organized violent attack, roughly 200 fascists attacked the refugees and migrants, as well as those standing in solidarity with them, with projectiles. While 26 people are now facing criminal charges related to the attack against the migrants, during the night not a single attacker was arrested. Only the 122 people facing trial today were arrested, after facing a night of racially motivated violence against them, which left many people, including migrants, journalists, and children injured.”

11.  UK: Construction firms in lawsuit over £55m payout to blacklisted trade unionists (The Guardian, link):

“Major construction firms are embroiled in a legal dispute over a multimillion-pound compensation bill that has been paid to more than 1,100 blacklisted trade unionists.

The workers won payouts totalling £55m after they discovered that construction firms had unlawfully compiled confidential files on their political and employment activities, preventing them from getting jobs.

Eight firms, including Sir Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty, have so far paid the compensation, and issued an unreserved and sincere apology, to the blacklisted workers. Now the eight companies are pursuing legal action to force another firm, Amec Foster Wheeler, to make a contribution to the compensation bill, arguing that the blacklisting was organised across the construction industry.”

12.  GREECE: Refugee, volunteer, prisoner: Sarah Mardini and Europe’s hardening line on migration (The New Humanitarian, link):

“On the balcony, Mardini, 23, was enjoying a rare moment of respite from long days spent working in the squalid Moria refugee camp. For the first time in a long time, she was looking forward to the future. After years spent between Lesvos and Berlin, she had decided to return to her university studies in Germany.

But when she went to the airport to leave, shortly after The New Humanitarian visited her, Mardini was arrested. Along with several other volunteers from Emergency Response Centre International, or ERCI, the Greek non-profit where she volunteered, Mardini was charged with belonging to a criminal organisation, people smuggling, money laundering, and espionage.”

13.  French police watchdog to investigate ‘truncheon rape’ video (The Local, link):

“French investigators are looking at several videos that appear to show police violence during May Day demonstrations in Paris, including one showing an officer push his truncheon inside the trousers of an arrested man.

The man attacked with a telescopic truncheon had been plucked from a crowd of protesters, many of whom were chanting “everyone hates the police”.

Paris police chiefs have asked the IGPN, the body that investigates police abuses, to investigate the incident, which happened when the arrested man was pinned down by other officers.”

See: a prior allegation: French enquiry finds insufficient proof police raped young man with truncheon (France 24, link)

14.  IRELAND: Lawyers or prisoners could launch legal action over reports of prison surveillance (Irish Legal News, link):

“Irish lawyers and prisoners could take legal action over reports of covert surveillance in Irish prisons, human rights lawyer Kevin Winters has warned.

The Inspector of Prisons, Patricia Gilheaney, was asked by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan last November to examine allegations that private conversations between solicitors and prisoners were covertly monitored by gardaí.

Ms Gilheaney s preliminary findings on the matter have not been published, but Mr Flanagan said last week that he was concerned by the contents of her report.”

15. Are You Syrious (6.5.19, link):

GREECE

“Greece struggling to examine the 62,418 asylum applications lodged between 2015 and 2019, while 5,500 new applications are submitted every year on average by the newly arrived people.

In the same time bracket, Greece granted asylum or subsidiary protection to 36,683 applicants, according to Ekathimerini.

The bulk of asylum applications are made at the service s offices the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios, as well as in Attica and Thessaloniki, with the latter also responsible for arrivals through the Evros border. One asylum-seeker who recently turned up at the Thessaloniki bureau was given an interview date for December 2023.

Just in 2019 (up until the end of April), 10,892 people arrived to Greece either by sea or land states UNHCR, mainly from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.”

16.  Turkey holds thousands in solitary in Erdogan’s prisons (DW, link):

“In Turkey, thousands of prisoners are being held in solitary confinement. Conditions are so harsh that some prisoners consider dying by suicide. Turkey’s government has offered no comment.”

17. Libyan Prime Minister brings message of migration increase to Europe (Euronews, link):

“Hundreds of thousands of refugees could flee the fighting caused by Libyan Army chief Khalifa Haftar s attempt to seize Tripoli that is according to Fayez al-Sarraj, Libya’s Prime Minister, who leads the country s UN-recognised government.”

See: “Destroying the memorial cannot erase the memory!” (pdf)

18. EU-TURKEY: A shameful bureaucratic development in 2016 (pressenza.com, link):

“In May and June of 2016, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) carried out a survey in Turkey for people from Syria and other third countries who were seeking international protection.(…)

Tens of thousands of people became trapped in unsuitable conditions, often affecting their mental health, with a lack of unrestricted access to basic health services and constant exposure to physical dangers.

The allegedly successful transfer to Turkey of responsibility for migration flows, in exchange for major financial gains, constituted a blueprint for the aggressive policy the EU has been pursuing since then as part of its foreign affairs.”

19.  UK: Britons most positive in Europe on benefits of immigration – Findings contradict assumption UK is more hostile than European neighbours (Guardian, link):

“British people are more persuaded of the benefits of immigration than any other major European nation, according to a global survey, which has also found that almost half of Britons think immigrants are either positive or neutral for the country.”

20.  Libya coast guard detains 113 migrants during lull in fighting (euractiv, link):

“The Libyan coast guard stopped two boats on Tuesday and one on Wednesday, carrying 113 migrants in all, and returned them to two western towns away from the Tripoli frontline, where they were put into detention centers, UN migration agency IOM said.”

21.  European Border And Coast Guard First agreement with a non EU country on border co-operation becomes operational (EU Reporter, link):

“On 1 May, the agreement on border co-operation between the European Border and Coast Guard and Albania became operational. This is the first agreement on operational cooperation to be signed with a neighbouring non-EU country, and also the first such agreement with an EU partner from the Western Balkans, to enter force since the launch of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency”.

22. UK: Immigration officers accused of racial profiling as they stop thousands of British citizens (thebureauinvestigates.com, link):

“British citizens are stopped by immigration officers ten times a day on average, new data reveals, prompting fresh accusations people are being targeted because of their skin colour.

An investigation by the Bristol Cable and Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows nearly a fifth of all people stopped and asked to prove their immigration status are British – a proportion which has remained unchanged for almost seven years.”

23. UK: Undercover police to have fake identities hidden at inquiry (The Guardian, link):

“The retired judge leading a public inquiry into the conduct of undercover officers who infiltrated political groups has granted anonymity to two-thirds of the police spies who requested it.

Sir John Mitting is heading the inquiry examining how undercover police officers spied on more than 1,000 political groups since 1968, following revelations of misconduct.

An analysis by the Guardian shows that 78 undercover officers applied to have their fake identities concealed while their evidence is heard at the inquiry, and Mitting has ruled in their favour in 50 cases. They will give evidence in private or with their identities hidden.”

24.  ITALY: Digital Identity in the Migration & Refugee Context (Data & Society, link):

“For migrants and refugees in Italy, identity data collection processes can exacerbate existing biases, discrimination, or power imbalances. Digital Identity in the Migration & Refugee Context analyzes the challenges arising from this digital ecosystem and identifies three major areas of concern: bureaucratic bias in identity systems; privacy and mistrusted systems; and organizational data responsibility. The report is co-authored by Mark Latonero (Principal Investigator), Keith Hiatt, Antonella Napolitano, Giulia Clericetti, and Melanie Penagos.

One key struggle is obtaining meaningful consent. Often, biometric data is collected as soon as migrants and refugees arrive in a new country, at a moment when they are vulnerable and overwhelmed. Language barriers exacerbate the issue, making it difficult to provide adequate context around rights to privacy. Identity data is collected inconsistently by different organizations, all of whose data protection and privacy practices vary widely.”

25.  UK: New figures reveal postcode lottery in imprisonment rates for women in England and Wales (Prison Reform Trust, link):

“The average imprisonment rate for women in England is 30 per 100,000, and in Wales 48 per 100,000.

Cleveland has the highest imprisonment rate in England and Wales at 67 women per 100,000 head of population. Between 2012 and 2017 this region saw an increase of 22% in the use of immediate imprisonment for women.

By contrast, Greater Manchester, where there is a co-ordinated strategy involving the local authority, police diversion, a problem solving court and women s support services, has an imprisonment rate of 25 women per 100,000 head of population. Between 2012 and 2017 it saw a decrease of 33% in the use of immediate imprisonment for women.”

26.  In borderless Europe, security chiefs unite against jihadist threat (Yahoo! News, link):

“The Hague (AFP) – With the jihadists behind the bloodshed in Paris and Brussels able to criss-cross European borders at will, anti-terror chiefs have been forced to come together to seek a common response to a global threat.

Experts say the deeper security cooperation was a watershed moment of the European Parliament term that winds up in May, when new elections for the legislative body will be held.

The transformation is most evident at the Dutch headquarters of Europol, where the patchwork of information exchanges between individual EU states has been replaced with a more streamlined multilateral sharing system.”

27.  UK:  Reclaim Citizenship To Reclaim Our Human Rights : Groups Call For End To Hostile Environment Policy (Rights Info, link):

“Charities, human rights organisations and academics are calling on the British public to join the fight to restore dignity to migrants trying to access services in the UK.

Groups such as Medact, Migrants Organise, Docs Not Cops, Project 17 and Liberty have teamed up to criticise the failures of the current government s hostile environment policy to ensure that the human rights of undocumented migrants remain protected.”

28.  Rendition: UK spent £11m of public money fighting Libya rendition case (Guardian, link):

“Figures show vast sums spent resisting apology demands over rendition of Libyan dissidents. The government spent more than £11m of public funds resisting demands for an apology, compensation and prosecutions over MI6 s 2004 rendition of the Libyan dissident Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife, Fatima Boudchar.

The colossal sum involved has been revealed for the first time through a freedom of information request that exposes the vast amounts ministers and official were prepared to pay out at a time when legal aid has been severely restricted.”

See: Statewatch Observatory on “rendition”: The use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners

29.  Turkish asylum seekers attacked by masked men, pushed back from Evros shore (Keep talking Greece, link):

“A group of Turkish asylum seekers claimed that following an attempt to cross the Turkish border via the Evros River in northeastern Greece on Friday evening, they were pushed back to the Turkish side after being beaten by masked men with batons, the IPA news agency reported.

Tugba Özkan, a journalist in the group, told IPA News on the phone that the group of 15 people fleeing persecution in Turkey crossed the Turkish-Greek border on Friday at 9 p.m. near the town of Soufli.

When they set foot on Greek soil, however, she said a group of masked men beat them and pushed them back across the river to the Turkish side, where a post-coup crackdown targeting Gülen movement followers has led to the prosecution of over half a million people.”

30.  Are You Syrious: Daily Digest 29/4/19: Another Ship in Distress Ignored & More Police Violence in BH (link)

Border Violence Monitoring reports

“A group of people was apprehended by the Bosnian police near Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and, under the pretext of being brought to the official camp in Sarajevo, they were held in detention for 16 hours in the Klobuk border crossing point – the one that is known for holding people in cage-like detention cells. In the morning, they were loaded into two white vans and brought to the border with Montenegro.”

Rescue Ship Stopped by German Government

“The search and rescue ship Mare Liberum has been blocked from leaving Lesvos by the German Federal Ministry for Transportation. The ministry of transportation, led by the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) politician Andreas Scheuer, apparently wants to perfidiously prevent any civil presence in the Mediterranean Sea to document human rights violations and the effects of the European Union s deadly border policy. We are urging for an accelerated response to repeal the decision, said a spokesperson for the NGO. You can read their entire press release (EN) here).”

Increase in Boat Interceptions by the Turkish Coast Guard

“There has been an increase in the number of refugee boats being intercepted by the Turkish Coast Guard (TCG), according to numbers released by Turkish authorities. Aegean Boat Report stated, Last week 52 boats were stopped, and 1,501 people were arrested. This is the highest number of boats stopped in one single week for over a year. Is Greece prepared for what would happen if Turkey should look the other way, and again let boats flow towards the Greek Aegean Islands

31. Germany faces ‘civil war’ threat from rising far-right groups (Daily Sabah, link):

“The far-right group “Pro-Chemnitz” stages a protest, Chemnitz, Aug. 30, 2018.

German far-right extremists have been training for civil war and a collapse of the state, a secret report by the country’s domestic security agency revealed, citing the rising risk of a right-wing terror threat.”

32.  Slovak top court rejects bid to ban far-right party (euractiv, link):

“Slovakia s Supreme Court on Monday (29 April) ruled against banning a far-right anti-immigrant, anti-Roma party currently polling at just over 10%, saying prosecutors had not produced enough evidence against them.

The Kotleba-People s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS), which campaigns against letting migrants into the country, entered the 150-member parliament for the first time in March 2016. It currently has 13 seats.

The proposed ban presented by chief prosecutor Jaromir Ciznar was insufficiently substantiated , Jana Zemkova told reporters, reading from the court decision.”

33. ‘Political predators preying on migration crisis,’ says EU top job candidate Timmermans (Euronews, link):

“Frans Timmermans, the socialist candidate for the EU’s top job, told Euronews that political predators were taking advantage of the so-called migration crisis.

“The problem arises from the time in 2015 and 2016 when clearly we were not in control of the crisis. Since then we have taken steps to regain control of the crisis. We’re not there yet but we’re getting there,” Timmermans said.”

34.  Julian Assange’s legal battles have only just begun (CNN, link):

“London (CNN)He entered Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012, lauded by some as a charismatic defender of truth and journalistic collaborator, fleeing what he claimed were the crosshairs of the United States.

Cut to almost seven years on, the extraordinary scenes of a disheveled Julian Assange dragged from his diplomatic sanctuary exposed the damaging impact of his time in self-imposed exile.

The 47-year-old WikiLeaks founder put his legal problems on hold during the 2,488 days he spent in the Ecuadorian Embassy. And now he’s out, they are more complicated than ever.”

35.  UK: Launch of the National Mikey Powell Memorial Family Fund (link):

“The fund will to be the first permanent national resource of its kind for those affected by deaths in custody, making small grants available for families and their campaign groups across the UK to provide practical domestic assistance, to further the work of their own campaigns or to assist them in engaging in other local, regional or national campaigns, events and initiatives.

This fund will make a real difference for families and their campaign groups that need financial support during the often long struggles for justice lasting for decades in many cases.”

36.  New EU Directive on Whistleblower Protection (EU Law Analysis, link):

“With an overwhelming majority, the European Parliament on 16 April voted in favour of the new law to protect whistleblowers in the European Union. The Directive sets leading standards and has become a prime example of how a concerted effort by civil society NGOs, trade unions, journalists, scholars, and whistleblowers together with the European Parliament can lead to progressive legislation and enhance tools that safeguard the rule of law in Europe.”

37.  Detention, Insecurity, Rights Deprivation The Legal Crackdown on Asylum Seekers in Germany (ECRE, link):

“On 17 April 2019 the German Government pushed ahead with the deprivation of rights of refugees with two laws the so-called Orderly Return Bill and an amendment to the social welfare law for asylum seekers. The highly controversial Orderly Return Bill promoted by the Ministry of the Interior has now been passed by the cabinet meeting of the Government and will be discussed in parliament. The draft law is part of a recent wave of legal measures that represent a crackdown on asylum seekers. It provides for far-reaching changes which have been sharply criticised by civil society associations as they include the deprivation of rights, expansion of the use of detention, and withdrawal of social benefits. It also makes the status of recognised refugees more precarious, introduces a downgraded version of the Duldung (toleration) status, and targets people and organisations involved in refugee support.”

38.  FAR-RIGHT: Vox enters Congress for the first time but falls short of expectations (El País, link):

“The Spanish far-right party Vox was expected to make historic gains at the general election on Sunday but ended up walking away with a more moderate result: 10.3% of the vote and 24 seats in Congress. During the election campaign, images of Vox s mass rallies fueled fears that the emerging group would make a deal with the conservative Popular Party (PP) and the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) to form a government. Instead Vox will have to resign itself to being in opposition as the fifth-strongest political force in Spain.

…Support for Vox at this year s election was more than 50 times greater than that seen at the 2016 polls. From having no congressional representation, the far-right party now has 24 deputies in Congress.”

39.  European governments targeting of migrant solidarity activists for prosecution must stop, says IRR (IRR, link):

“The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) publishes today a compelling new report on crimes of solidarity , drawing attention to a dramatic increase in prosecutions, restrictions and penalties, against a variety of civil society actors.

The online publication of When Witnesses Won t be Silenced: citizens solidarity and criminalisation comes just days after the Global Legal Action Network petitioned the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the prosecution in January 2016 of Salam Kamal-Aldeen, the founder of Team Humanity, for his rescue work in the Aegean Sea constitutes a violation of human rights law.”

40.  France delivers boats to Libya: NGOs demand justice! (press release, pdf):

“Today our eight organisations invoke justice and denounce France s complicity in violations of human rights in Libya. At the Administrative Tribunal in Paris we demand the suspension of a delivery of boats planned by the Armed Forces Ministry destined for Libyan coastguards, on account of serious doubts about its legality.

Last February, Florence Parly, France s armed Forces minister, announced the purchase of six high-speed boats destined for Libyan coastguards in order to deal with the problem of illegal immigration . For the first time, France publicly announced direct and concrete bilateral collaboration with the Libyan coastguards. In buying these six boats for their use, France is participating in the cycle of violations of human rights committed in Libya in relation to refugees and migrants, by providing the logistics to intensify such measures.”

DOCUMENTATION

1.  GREECE: April 2019 Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):

“Last week, it was reported that in response to criticism the director of the notorious Reception and Identification Centre outside Moria village in Lesvos stated that anyone who thinks they can do better than us is welcome to try.

What he misses is that it is actually an obligation of the State to provide adequate reception facilities for asylum seekers. It is also an obligation of the state to respect, protect, and ensure the enjoyment of human rights for all residing in its jurisdiction, including all migrants and refugees.

Three years after the EU-Turkey Statement, time has shown that the Greek state, and the European Union in its role implementing European migration policies, have utterly failed to meet these obligations. The horrible conditions and systematic procedural violations are not only morally, but legally unacceptable.

The practices we have documented in the first quarter of 2019 demonstrate a continued policy of dehumanization, discrimination, and structural violence against migrants entering Europe via Lesvos. Below is just a sampling of the continuing violation of migrants we have repeatedly reported on.”

2.   Greece: Lesvos: Thermi: Lest we forget: Memorial for the Dead of the European Borders, Thermi/Lesvos 25th of October 2017(w2eu.ne, link). In 2018 the memorial was destroyed by local fascists.

3.  European Parliament Analysis: Robots in healthcare: a solution or a problem? (pdf):

“The first part of the workshop focused on the practical application of AI and robots in healthcare, while the second part examined the ethical implications and responsibilities of AI and robotic based technologies in healthcare.”

4.  Statewatch Observatory: Creation of a centralised Justice & Home Affairs database (Updated 5 May 2019).

5.  Global Detention Project Annual Report 2018 (link):

“L ast summer, people across the globe expressed outrage when U.S. immigration officials began separating children from their parents at the U.S.- Mexico border and placing them in hastily set up camps and cages. Absent from much of the criticism, however, was any recognition of the fact that children are detained for immigration-related reasons in dozens of countries, all of which with the exception of the United States have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2019.

…The continued insistence by states that immigration enforcement decisions take precedence over considerations of the well-being of children is also reflected in the much-anticipated Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), adopted in December 2018. As we discuss later in this Annual Report, there is much that is laudable in the GCM, including its insistence that immigration detention only be used as a measure of last resort and its re-iteration of long-standing fundamental norms requiring that detention follows due process, is non-arbitrary, based on law, necessity, proportionality and individual assessments.

Concerning children, the GCM encourages states to apply alternatives to detention while working to end the practice of child detention. But the compact falls short of recognising immigration detention s violation of the best interest principle or calling for the prohibition of child detention.”

6.  IRELAND: Legislation to codify arrest, search and detention powers coming to Cabinet this year (Irish Legal News, link):

“Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan told a law conference this morning that he plans to bring legislative proposals to the Cabinet this year to codify powers of arrest, search and detention.

The legislation will also include statutory codes of practice to ensure full clarity and transparency in the exercise of coercive powers.

Mr Flanagan spoke at the opening session of the Policing, Human Rights & Communities conference hosted by the School of Law and Irish Centre for Human Rights in NUI Galway this morning.”

See: A policing service for the future: Implementing the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (pdf) and: The future of policing in Ireland (pdf)

7. Council of the European Union: Counter Terrorism: EU threat assessment in the field of counterterrorism (LIMITE doc no: 8127-19, pdf)

“In line with the agreed way forward, the Presidency drew up the current document on the basis of the EU INTCEN sixth monthly Islamist terrorist threat assessment and EUROPOL’s report.”

And Report to the European Parliament and national Parliaments on the proceedings of the Standing Committee on operational cooperation on internal security (COSI) for the period July 2017 – December 2018 (Council doc no: 7500-19, pdf);

“The Presidency of the Council has submitted to the Council the annexed report on the proceedings of the Standing Committee on operational cooperation on internal security (COSI) for the period July 2017 – December 20181.

In accordance with Article 71 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 6(2) of the Council Decision establishing the Standing Committee on operational cooperation on internal security (COSI), the Council hereby transmits the said report to the national Parliaments.”
__________________________________________
Statewatch: Monitoring the state and civil liberties in Europe
c/o MDR,88 Fleet St, London EC4Y 1DH
tel: +44(0)203 691 5227
http://www.statewatch.org

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