Statewatch News Online, 4 February 2020 (01/20)

4 February 2020 — Statewatch

Also available as a pdf file: http://statewatch.org/news/2020/feb/email-4-2-20.pdf

STATEWATCH ANALYSES

1.  Italy guilty of refoulements in 2009 handover of Eritrean shipwreck survivors to Libya
2 : Germany: Shadow army or isolated cases? Right-wing structures in the security authorities

STATEWATCH NEWS

1.    GREECE: Solidarity Statement: Freedom for Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar
2.    FRANCE: Death of a ten-year-old child in Roissy: another victim of European migration policies?
3.   EU to target violent right-wing extremism, terrorism and “other extreme political movements”
4.   EU-TUNISIA: Plan for a reception centre in Bir El Fatnassiya for asylum seekers who flee  Libya
5.   Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-20.1.20)
6.   Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.12.19-13.1.20)
7. UK: History repeats itself with calls to introduce mandatory SIM registration
8.  SPAIN-MOROCCO: Statement; hot returns from Chafarinas on :”serious violation of human rights”
9.  EU: Migration-related deaths: open access book provides “first interdisciplinary overview”

NEWS

1.   Europol: SIRIUS: European Union Digital Evidence Situation Report 2019
2 .  UK: Court of Appeal upholds the right to roam of Romany and Travellers
3.  800 migrants detained in Spain in poor conditions, says NGO
4.  UK: Met Police could deploy facial recognition against protesters
5.   EASO operations in Greece to expand significantly
6.  More than 150 migrants rescued by Open Arms, 400 others to disembark in Italy
7.  EU gearing up for even more anti-crime measures
8.  FRANCE: When “Anti-Populism” Makes the Far Right Mainstream
9.  The EU is funding dystopian Artificial Intelligence projects
10.  Eritrean asylum seekers hold protest in Slovenia over asylum process, rejected application
11.  ITALY: Emilia-Romagna: Hard right fails to seize leftist stronghold
12.   UK: Priti Patel’s plan to tackle radicalised youth is so flawed it’s mad, says study
13.  Germany: Over 500 right-wing extremists suspected in Bundeswehr
14.  Historic UN Human Rights case opens door to climate change asylum claims
15.  BREXIT: The EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act: what does it do?
16.  ITALY: Giving names to victims  –  deaths in Italian deportation centres
17GREECE: January 2020 Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos
18.  SCOTLAND: Far-right activist sent to Scotland to infiltrate army as veterans targeted
19.  EU: MONITORYOU: the MilliONs beIng spenT by the eu on develOping surveillance tech
20.  UK: Tougher sentencing and monitoring in government overhaul of terrorism response
21. USA: We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point.
22.  POLAND: 1460 Days Later: Rule of Law in Poland R.I.P. (Part I)
23.  UK: Corin Redgrave Memorial Lecture 2020: Justice In A Broken World
24. DENMARK: ‘Unacceptable for people’: Danish asylum centre slammed in anti-torture report
25.  EU mulls five-year ban on facial recognition tech in public areas
26. UK: Greenpeace included with neo-Nazis on UK counter-terror list
27.  EU: How do the European media cover migration?
28.  Europeans seek ‘lawful’ ways of intercepting 5G communications
29.  UK: Police leaders to start bidding for more tasers from today
30.  UK: The Queen’s Speech: setting the ‘public’ against its ‘enemies’
31.  GREECE: Migrants face increasingly hostile conditions
32.  UNHCR’s Recommendations for the Croatian and German Presidencies of the Council
33. Transforming the EU in freedom security and justice areas  Council ideas for a Strategic Agenda
34. Greece: Chios: Protesters boo, throw water bottles at Dep Labor Minister over Migration policy
35. Dozens of German cities petition to take in more refugees
36. Greece to build new facilities for 15,000 migrants
37. Chios municipal council rejected plan for closed migrant centre
38IRELAND: Concerns ‘spying powers’ still used despite ruling Irish legislation breached EU law
39.  UK: Priti Patel defends inclusion of Extinction Rebellion on UK terror list
40.  Europol Study: Disclosure of electronic evidence often fails due to incompetence of authorities
41.  UK: Undercover Inequality: Help challenge sexism in the justice system
42.  UK: No sanctuary for migrants: Undocumented migrants criminalised
43.  12 migrants found dead after boat sinks off western Greece
44.  EU-ERITREA: How Forced Labor in Eritrea Is Linked to E.U.-Funded Projects
45.  The Hope Project Charity Auction London, 6–17 January 2020
46.  EU: EASO operations to double in size this year
47.  SCOTLAND: SCVO warns against extension of Scottish Freedom of Information Act
48.  EU: Irregular migration into EU at lowest level since 2013
49.  MALTA: UNHCR concerned about fire at reception centre, calls for urgent action on conditions
50.  UK: MPs reject Labour’s call to reinstate child refugee pledge
51.  MALTA: MV Lifeline captain conviction overturned on appeal
52.  MALTA: 24 arrests made in Safi migrants’ centre protest
53.  UK: DNA supplied by public to trace their ancestry should be available to police
54.  Libya militias rake in millions in European migration funds: AP
55.  Italy Faces Complaint at UN Over ‘Abusive’ Libya Asylum Returns
56.  50 countries ranked by how they’re collecting biometric data and what they’re doing with it
57.  Pole and Hungarian brothers be – EU member states fuel the rise of pro-government propaganda
58.  UK: More police, more prosecutions, more punishment
59.  Facial recognition fails on race, government study says
60.  UK: MI5 policy allowing informants to commit serious crimes ruled lawful
61.  The ever-rising securitisation of mixed migration
62.  UK: Decade of dissent: how protest is shaking the UK and why it’s likely to continue
63.   UK Police Snowden Probe Declared “Inactive”
64.  Statewatch Workshop on Northern Ireland: THE LEGACY OF COLLUSION
65.  Brexit: Johnson condemned for dropping pledge to replace family reunion law
66. Greece: Unaccompanied Children at Risk – Arriving Alone in Island Camp
67.  Europol: SIRIUS: European Union Digital Evidence Situation Report 2019

STATEWATCH ANALYSES

1.  Italy guilty of refoulements in 2009 handover of Eritrean shipwreck survivors to Libya by Yasha Maccanico:

An Italian court has ruled that the country’s Cabinet presidency and defence ministry were responsible for the refoulement of 14 Eritrean nationals in July 2009, when a warship rescued some 80 people and took them back to Libya, ignoring requests for international protection.

2 : Germany: Shadow army or isolated cases? Right-wing structures in the security authorities  by Sebastian Wehrhahn and Martina Renne

Over two years after the case of Franco A came to light, public attention and official sensitivity to the problem of right-wing attitudes and structures in the military and police have decreased significantly. Nevertheless, individual revelations about right-wing structures and incidents in the Bundeswehr (Germany army) and the police continue to raise questions.

STATEWATCH NEWS

1.  GREECE: Solidarity Statement: Freedom for Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar: The European Union must stop the arbitrary incarceration of refugees and migrants (pdf)

“We express our solidarity with Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar who are currently being held in pre-trial detention in Komotini, Greece. Both are facing long prison sentences because they are being wrongfully and arbitrarily accused of “smuggling”.

Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are Moroccan citizens who fled their country searching for protection and better living conditions, Hamza Haddi in particular is a known political activist who was hoping to be granted political asylum in Europe.

…Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are now accused of and are facing trial for the “smuggling” of two persons – one of them being Hamza’s own brother Yassine!

The accusations against Hamza and Mohamed are clearly unfounded. They are refugees, not smugglers.

The statement is also available in ItalianGreekFrenchGerman and Arabic (pdfs)

2.   FRANCE: Death of a ten-year-old child in Roissy: another victim of European migration policies?

This morning [8 January], the body of a child of around ten years of age was found in the landing undercarriage of an aeroplane arriving from Abidjan (Ivory Coast) to the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport (Paris).

Although tragedies are frequent in the Mediterranean, between the Comores and Mayotte, and in other parts of the world, this situation is more exceptional, or at least less well known, in French ports and airports.

3.  EU to target violent right-wing extremism, terrorism and “other extreme political movements”

The EU is taking action to counter “right-wing violent extremism and terrorism” through information-sharing, the development of anti-radicalisation and risk analysis programmes, online censorship and cooperation with third countries. As well as the far-right, “this work shall also address violent extremism and terrorism stemming from other extreme political movements,” according to a document produced by the Council Presidency in November 2019.

4.  EU-TUNISIA: About the plan to create a reception centre in Bir El Fatnassiya for asylum seekers who flee the degradation of the security situation in Libya

The Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Economiques et Sociaux is following the news about the creation of a camp in the region of Bir El Fatnassiya, 15 km to the south of the city of Rmada in the governorship of Tataouine within the framework of an emergency plan. After the experience of the camp in Choucha, where volunteer citizens have taken on most of the responsibility and, after the withdrawal of international organisations, Tunisia has been forced to face the consequences of this camp’s establishment, including providing accommodation for a group of asylum seekers in the youth centre in Marsa.

5.  Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-20.1.20) including:

  • Danish asylum centre slammed in anti-torture report
  • Greece: Migrants face increasingly harsh conditions
  • Dozens of German cities petition to take in more refugees


6.  Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.12.19-13.1.20) including: 

  • How Forced Labour in Eritrea Is Linked to E.U.-Funded Projects
  • Libya militias rake in millions in European migration funds: AP
  • Complaint filed with UN body over Italy’s role in privatised push-backs to Libya resulting in migrant abuse
  • Migrant arrivals from Turkey to Europe nearly double in 2019

7. UK: History repeats itself with calls to introduce mandatory SIM registration

An official review of police action against ‘county lines’ drugs gangs has said that the possibility for people to purchase and use mobile phone SIM cards anonymously “enables criminality” and that the Home Office “should commission a review of the criminal abuse of mobile telecommunications services” by the end of 2020.

8. SPAIN-MOROCCO: Statement on the hot returns from the Chafarinas on 3 January: “a serious violation of human rights”

Yesterday morning, on 3 January 2020, a group of 42 migrant people, including 26 women and two children aged three and four, reached Congress Island in the Chafarinas archipelago. That same evening, the Guardia Civil enacted the summary return of the 42 migrants. On this occasion, the Spanish government allowed the hot return of vulnerable minors and women.

9.  EU: Migration-related deaths: open access book provides “first interdisciplinary overview” of causes, dynamics and consequences

A new book that is freely-available online claims to offer the “first interdisciplinary overview” of the causes, dynamics and consequences of migration-related deaths, with eight chapters examining issues such as the collection and use of data; the process of mourning missing migrants; and the causes of border deaths.

NEWS

1. Europol: SIRIUS: European Union Digital Evidence Situation Report 2019 (Press release, link):

“A new Europol report aims to draw a picture of the status of access of European Union (EU) Member States to electronic evidence held by foreign-based online service providers in 2018. The report presents data in relation to the volume of requests from EU Member States to online service providers; the main reasons for refusal or delay of EU requests; and the main challenges in the process from the perspective of the different stakeholders.

Manuel Navarrete, Head of the European Counter Terrorism Centre at Europol: “This is the first time such an exercise is carried out in a systematic way and including survey with judicial authorities, law enforcement from all EU Member States and input from over 12 online service providers. The information gathered gives indications of short-term actions, which could be taken to improve the swiftness of this process.”

2 . UK: Court of Appeal upholds the right to roam of Romany and Travellers (UK Human Rights Blog, link):

The Court of Appeal, in The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Bromley v Persons Unknown [2020] EWCA Civ 12 [pdf], has delivered a unanimous judgment reaffirming the rights of the Romany (‘Gypsy’) and Traveller community to live in accordance with their traditional, nomadic way of life.

The case is significant for two reasons. First, in recent years there has been a spate of local authorities applying for injunctions which prevent Romany and Travellers setting up unauthorised encampments in their boroughs. There are now 38 of these injunctions nationwide.

…Second, in its judgment, the Court of Appeal reaffirms the centrality of a nomadic lifestyle to Romany and Traveller tradition and culture.”

3. 800 migrants detained in Spain in poor conditions, says NGO (InfoMigrants, link):

More than 800 Tunisian migrants have been detained in the Spanish enclave of Melilla for more than 5 months, Tunesian NGO Ftdes claims.

According to Romdhane Ben Amor of the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (Ftdes), “over 800 undocumented Tunisian migrants including women and children have been detained for more than five months in inhuman and humiliating conditions at the Melilla temporary residence for immigrants in Spain,” Tap news agency reported.

In a statement, Amor said that the migrants are housed in cluttered and dirty plastic tents, exposed to cold and lack of food. He said that the migrants had applied for asylum in Spain, but have not received any response to their requests. The migrants had reportedly also staged a sit-in but neither the Spanish nor Tunisian authorities reacted.”

4. UK: Met Police could deploy facial recognition against protesters (Computer Weekly, link):

The operational use of live facial recognition (LFR) by UK law enforcers could artificially inflate tension between political activists and police during protests, as participants may feel under pressure to conceal their identities because of privacy concerns.

According to the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), which monitors and resists policing that is excessive, discriminatory or threatens civil liberties, individuals who seek to conceal their identities to evade LFR on privacy grounds could unwittingly garner more attention from police who may assume they are “troublemakers”. It could also dissuade them from participating in political action all together, it added.”

See also: Facial recognition can’t tell black and brown people apart – but the police are using it anyway (gal-dem, link)

5.   EASO operations in Greece to expand significantly (EASO, link):

On 28 January 2020, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the Greek government signed a Seat Agreement for the Hosting of the EASO Operational Office in Greece…

The hosting agreement gives legal and administrative clarity to the status of EASO in the country, including that of its staff and assets, thus allowing the Agency to be better able to support the Hellenic asylum and reception authorities.

Based on an Operating Plan which was signed between EASO and Greece in December 2019, the Agency is already scaling up its operational presence in support of the Greek authorities. Deployed EASO personnel will double from approximately 500 to over 1000 throughout the year. They will work to support the Greek Asylum Service, the national Dublin Unit, the Reception and Identification Service and the Appeals Authority. The personnel will include caseworkers, field support staff, reception staff, research officers for the Appeals Authority, interpreters and administrative staff.”

See: 2020 Operational & Technical Assistance Plan agreed by EASO and Greece (pdf)

6.  More than 150 migrants rescued by Open Arms, 400 others to disembark in Italy (InfoMigrants, link):

The humanitarian rescue vessel Open Arms picked up 158 migrants in two rescue operations off the coast of Libya overnight. Since Thursday, three NGO ships have rescued nearly 640 people. Over 400 migrants on board the Ocean Viking will be allowed to disembark in Taranto, Italy.

The Spanish NGO Open Arms said on Twitter that it had taken on board 56 people during a first rescue operation late Monday evening. The migrants were travelling in international waters and the operation was completed after the Open Arms boat’s engine was “provisionally repaired”.

A few hours later the rescue vessel took on board another 102 migrants from a boat in distress. According to Open Arms, it saved them from “probable death”.”

7.  EU gearing up for even more anti-crime measures (EUobserver, link):

The European Commission is preparing a raft of what it describes as new measures against terrorism, drugs, and crime.

Speaking to reporters in Zagreb after meeting EU interior ministers on Friday (24 January), the European Commissioner for home affairs Ylva Johansson announced she is also “preparing to reinforce the mandate of [the EU’s police agency] Europol”, based in The Hague.

On drugs, Johansson said a new EU agenda will be proposed noting that illicit substances have become more widespread, cheaper and more potent. On crime she said plans are underway to freeze and recover assets. And on terrorism, she wants new plans to protect critical infrastructure, such as energy, transport, finance and health.”

8.  FRANCE: When “Anti-Populism” Makes the Far Right Mainstream (Jacobin, link):

W hen the far-right Front National (FN) changed its name to Rassemblement National (National Rally, or RN) in June 2018, media commentary tended to follow a familiar pattern ­ taking party leader Marine Le Pen’s words at face value. The Associated Press interpreted the change as an indication of the party’s desire to “appeal to a broader range of voters.” It drew a similar, if rather odd, conclusion about the party’s modified logo: the organization’s “traditional flames” had been put “inside a partially closed circle to signal a new openness.”

A more skeptical eye might have discerned a rather closed kind of openness here, while a more informed one may have noted that the “traditional flames” were originally the emblem of the Movimento Sociale Italiano, a neofascist organization of die-hard Mussolini loyalists.”

9.  The EU is funding dystopian Artificial Intelligence projects (EurActiv, link):

Discussions on the negative impact of Artificial Intelligence in society include horror stories plucked from either China’s high-tech surveillance state and its use of the controversial social credit system, or from the US and its use of recidivism algorithms and predictive policing.

Typically, Europe is excluded from these stories, due to the perception that EU citizens are protected from such AI-fueled nightmares through the legal protection offered by the GDPR, or because there is simply no horror-inducing AI deployed across the continent.

In contrast to this perception, journalists and NGOs have shown that imperfect and ethically questionable AI systems such as facial recognition, fraud detection and smart (a.k.a surveillance) cities, are also in use across Europe.”

10.  Eritrean asylum seekers hold protest in Slovenia over asylum process, rejected applications (InfoMigrants, link):

A group of Eritrean asylum seekers have held a protest in Slovenia against asylum request procedures, which the community sees as unfair. They also demonstrated against the rejection of five asylum claims filed by Eritreans.

Eritrean asylum seekers protested Wednesday morning in front of the building hosting them in the center of the Slovenian capital. The demonstration was an attempt to draw the attention of the government and the public to asylum procedures, which the protesters see as unfair.

The approximately 15 protestors claim that Slovenia should grant asylum to all Eritrean citizens filing a request because the country is the “North Korea of the African continent,” as one banner stated.”

11.  ITALY: Emilia-Romagna: Hard right fails to seize leftist stronghold (Al Jazeera, link):

Italy’s hard-right League leader Matteo Salvini has failed to overturn decades of left-wing rule in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna in an election that brought relief to the embattled centre-left.

With 98 percent of the ballots counted, incumbent Democratic Party (PD) Governor Stefano Bonaccini had won 51.4 percent of the vote from Sunday’s poll, compared with 43.7 percent for Lucia Borgonzoni, the candidate backed by the League and its allies, interior ministry data showed.

12.   UK: Priti Patel’s plan to tackle radicalised youth is so flawed it’s mad, says study (The Guardian, link):

A Home Office-funded study into tackling radicalisation among young people has concluded that the approach being pushed through by the home secretary, Priti Patel, is so flawed that it is “madness”.

Instead the research, which will be unveiled on Wednesday and is described as one of the biggest scientific surveys of its type in Europe, found that the most effective strategy was precisely the opposite approach pursued by Patel. Generating “positive psychology” among young people was found to be significantly more effective than punitive policies when challenging “violent youth radicalisation”, defined as gang crime through to the development of extreme ideologies.

Its conclusions contradict Patel’s hardline approach, typified by measures announced last week that emphasised longer jail terms for violent and terrorist offenders, lie-detector tests and increased monitoring.”

Background: Tougher sentencing and monitoring in government overhaul of terrorism response (Home Office, link)

13.  Germany: Over 500 right-wing extremists suspected in Bundeswehr (DW, link):

Germany’s Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) has said it was investigating 550 Bundeswehr soldiers suspected of right-wing extremism, German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported on Sunday.

Numerous cases of extremism in the German military and among other security forces have been brought to light in recent years, as the government struggles to contain right-wing extremist threats and violence.

An additional 360 cases of suspected right-wing extremism were registered in 2019, Christof Gramm, the head of MAD, told Welt am Sonntag.”

See: Statewatch Analysis: Germany: Shadow army or isolated cases? Right-wing structures in the security authorities (pdf)

14.  Historic UN Human Rights case opens door to climate change asylum claims (UN Human Rights, link):

GENEVA (21 January 2020) – In its first ruling on a complaint by an individual seeking asylum from the effects of climate change, the UN Human Rights Committee* has stated that countries may not deport individuals who face climate change-induced conditions that violate the right to life.

…The Committee determined that in Mr. Teitiota’s specific case, New Zealand’s courts did not violate his right to life at the time of the facts, because the thorough and careful evaluation of his testimony and other available information led to the determination that, despite the serious situation in Kiribati, sufficient protection measures were put in place. “Nevertheless,” said Committee expert Yuval Shany, “this ruling sets forth new standards that could facilitate the success of future climate change-related asylum claims.””

See the ruling: Views adopted by the Committee under article 5 (4) of the Optional Protocol, concerning communication No. 2728/2016 (pdf)

15.  BREXIT: The EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act: what does it do? (Lexology, link):

In short, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 (“WAA”): 

  • provides for the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement on the UK side and paves the way for the UK to leave the EU on 31 January 2020, once the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified by the EU (and signed by the parties); and
  • gives effect to the transition period, which (unless extended) is due to expire on 31 December 2020. During this time, the UK will remain part of the EU Customs Union and Single Market and the vast majority of EU laws and judgments will continue to apply, despite the UK ceasing to be an EU Member post 31 January 2020.


But the WAA does not mean that Brexit is “done”, as the UK still needs to negotiate the terms of its future relationship with the EU.

See: European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 (pdf) and: Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom (19 October 2019, pdf)

16.  ITALY: Giving names to victims ­ deaths in Italian deportation centres (AYS Daily Digest 20/01/20, link)

“Twentynine people died in Italian deportation centres from 1998 until 2020.

The last death occurred on Saturday 18th January 2020 in the CPR of Gradisca d’Isonzo, when Vakhtang Enukidze lost his life, as he was surrounded by 8 policemen in riot gears and beaten heavily, causing him fatal injuries.

Therefore, today’s digest will, in a way, try to pay respect to those “invisible” deaths occurred by the hand of the Italian state, those deaths that are not investigated properly because the victims are “unwanted” in the country, guilty of being alone in a hostile land.”

17GREECE: January 2020 Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):

“A. Situation Report in Lesvos, as of 15/1/2020

·  Total population of registered asylum seekers and refugees on Lesvos: 21,268
·  Registered Population of Moria Camp & Olive Grove: 19,184
·  Registered unaccompanied minors: 1,049

Total Detained: 88

·  Total Arrivals in Lesvos from Turkey in 2020: 1,015

Over 19,000 people are now living in Moria Camp – the main refugee camp on the island – yet the Camp lacks any official infrastructure, such as housing, security, electricity, sewage, schools, health care, etc. While technically, most individuals are allowed to leave this camp, it has become an open-air prison, as they must spend most of their day in hours long lines for food, toilets, doctors, and the asylum office.”

18.  SCOTLAND: Far-right activist sent to Scotland to infiltrate army as veterans targeted by race hate groups (Daily Record, link):

Since the Iraq War, the British military in Scotland has made huge progress in becoming an inclusive and diverse organisation but accusations of endemic racism within its ranks have surfaced.

We can reveal that far-right extremist group For Britain has deployed an activist in Scotland to try to develop links among serving and retired forces personnel.

Our probe also revealed soldiers with links to Nazi thugs’ group Combat 18.”

19.  EU: MONITORYOU: the MilliONs beIng spenT by the eu on develOping surveillance tech to taRget YOU (Privacy International, link):

The European Union (EU) spends billions on research and development aimed at driving economic growth and jobs, as well as furthering the bloc’s broader agenda. Within the current budget, known as Horizon 2020 and covering the years 2014-2020, some €80 billion has been made available for research in a huge number of areas, ranging from finding cures for diseases to helping keep the earth viable for life.

From the same budget, it also funds a lot of projects aimed at developing surveillance technology. Successive research budgets have ploughed billions in euros to surveillance companies, government security agencies, and universities to conduct research and develop products to complement EU and national internal security policies.

Much of the funding goes to companies which sell surveillance tech to governments or to government agencies which themselves carry out surveillance. This not only furthers surveillance capabilities; it takes money away from other vital research.”

20.  UK: Tougher sentencing and monitoring in government overhaul of terrorism response (Home Office, link):

Confirmed by Home Secretary Priti Patel and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC, the new Counter-Terrorism Bill, to be introduced in the first 100 days of this government, will force dangerous terrorist offenders who receive extended determinate sentences to serve the whole time behind bars and ensure those convicted of serious offences such as preparing acts of terrorism or directing a terrorist organisation spend a mandatory minimum of 14 years in prison.

It will also overhaul the terrorist licensing regime, doubling the number of specialist counter-terrorism probation officers and introducing measures such as polygraph testing. It will increase the number of places available in probation hostels so that authorities can keep closer tabs on terrorists in the weeks after they are released from prison.”

21. USA: We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point. (The New York Times, link) by Bruce Schneier:

“… facial recognition bans are the wrong way to fight against modern surveillance. Focusing on one particular identification method misconstrues the nature of the surveillance society we’re in the process of building. Ubiquitous mass surveillance is increasingly the norm. In countries like China, a surveillance infrastructure is being built by the government for social control. In countries like the United States, it’s being built by corporations in order to influence our buying behavior, and is incidentally used by the government.

In all cases, modern mass surveillance has three broad components: identification, correlation and discrimination. Let’s take them in turn.”

22.  POLAND: 1460 Days Later: Rule of Law in Poland R.I.P. (Part I) (Verfassungsblog, link):

“On 13 January 2016, exactly four years ago today, the Commission activated its rule of law framework for the very first time with respect to Poland (for our previous 2-part post assessing the situation as of 13 January 2019 see here).

During this time, Poland has become the first EU Member State:

  • to be threatened with the payment of a penalty payment of at least €100,000 per day should it continue to ignore an interim order adopted by the ECJ in July 2017;
  • to be subject to the exceptional procedure laid down in Article 7(1) TEU in December 2017;
  • to have seen its newly “redesigned” National Council of the Judiciary suspended from the European Networks of Councils for the Judiciary for its lack of independence in August 2018;
  • to have seen its self-described “judicial reforms” provisionally suspended by the Court of Justice via two interim orders in October and December 2018;
  • to have been found by the Court of Justice to have failed to fulfil its Treaty obligations under the second subparagraph of Article 19(1) TEU not once but twice in June and November 2019;
  • to have been referred to the Court of Justice by the Commission for making it possible to subject ordinary court judges to disciplinary investigations, procedures and sanctions on the basis of the content of their judicial decisions, including the exercise of their right under Article 267 TFEU to request preliminary rulings from the Court of Justice.


As if to outdo itself when it comes to annihilating judicial independence, Poland’s ruling party has rushed an unprecedented piece of legislation last month.”

23.  UK: Corin Redgrave Memorial Lecture 2020: Justice In A Broken World by Professor David Andress – Saturday 14 March 2020, London (pdf):

Human Rights are one of the most powerful expressions of a commitment to justice in the world. Yet they have been from their origins compromised even by those who declared them. This lecture will consider whether alternative ways of framing the goals of a rights driven order might offer different routes to achieving more of such goals in the future.

24. DENMARK: ‘Unacceptable for people’: Danish asylum centre slammed in anti-torture report (The Local, link):

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture published on Tuesday a highly critical report on a detention centre in Denmark.

The committee called the centre at Ellebæk in North Zealand “unacceptable for people”.

…The report is based on visits to Ellebæk and other detention centres including Nykøbing Falster Arrest.

Both facilities house migrants who are under arrest based on Denmark’s immigration laws (Udlændingeloven), but not for committing crimes.”

See: Report to the Danish Government on the visit to Denmark carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumanor Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 3 to 12 April 2019 (pdf)

25.  EU mulls five-year ban on facial recognition tech in public areas (Reuters, link):

The European Union is considering banning facial recognition technology in public areas for up to five years, to give it time to work out how to prevent abuses, according to proposals seen by Reuters.

The plan by the EU’s executive – set out in an 18-page white paper – comes amid a global debate about the systems driven by artificial intelligence and widely used by law enforcement agencies.

The EU Commission said new tough rules may have to be introduced to bolster existing regulations protecting Europeans’ privacy and data rights.”

See the document: Structure for the White Paper on artifical intelligence – a European approach (pdf) which notes that rather than a ban “it would be preferable to focus at this stage on full implementation of the provisions in the General Data Protection Regulation.

26.  UK: Greenpeace included with neo-Nazis on UK counter-terror list (The Guardian, link):

A counter-terrorism police document distributed to medical staff and teachers as part of anti-extremism briefings included Greenpeace, Peta and other non-violent groups as well as neo-Nazis, the Guardian has learned.

The guide, produced by Counter Terrorism Policing, is used across England as part of training for Prevent, the anti-radicalisation scheme designed to catch those at risk of committing terrorist violence.

…the list of groups viewed as a potential concern contained in the new 24-page document includes Extinction Rebellion. It also includes Greenpeace – among whose supporters are Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Gillian Anderson and Joanna Lumley – and the ocean pollution campaigners Sea Shepherd, whose supporters include Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. Also included is Stop the Badger Cull, which is backed by Sir Brian May, the Queen guitarist.”

See: The document produced by Counter Terrorism Policing (pdf) and: Non-violent protesters are not terrorists and it’s time the police accepted that (The Guardian, link)

27.  EU: How do the European media cover migration? (European Journalism Observatory, link):

In the five years since the European refugee crisis began, controversies related to migration have deeply affected political landscapes across the EU, yet no “European solutions” have so far been found. A new study by the European Journalism Observatory (EJO) now shines a light on the media’s role in the migration debate.

EJO’s comparative analysis reveals that in each country, the media tell different stories about migrants and refugees. Clear differences in the quantity and quality of coverage can be discerned not only between Western and Central Eastern Europe, but even within Western Europe. The study also reveals a number of blind spots in the coverage of migration.”

28.  Europeans seek ‘lawful’ ways of intercepting 5G communications (EurActiv, link):

The European Commission is working alongside Europol and EU member states to “identify appropriate ways of preserving lawful interception capabilities in 5G networks,” said Ylva Johansson, the EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner.

…improved standards in mobile communications may, in turn, allow for a user’s identity and location to be protected, therefore undermining police authorities’ ability to conduct “lawful interception” – in other words, wiretapping or eavesdropping.

In Europe, fears among politicians and police authorities in this regard are starting to provoke ideas about how these higher levels of encryption may be bypassed.

“The Commission, Europol and Member States’ law enforcement authorities are working together to identify appropriate ways of preserving lawful interception capabilities in 5G networks,” a written statement from Commissioner Johansson said on Monday (13 January).”

See: Statewatch Analysis: A world without wiretapping? Official documents highlight concern over effects 5G technology will have on “lawful interception” (pdf)

29.   UK: Police leaders to start bidding for more tasers from today (Home Office, link):

Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales can start bidding today to equip more of their officers with tasers as part of a Home Office drive to give police more powers and tools to tackle crime.

This follows the Home Secretary’s commitment to put more officers carrying tasers on our streets through a £10 million ring fenced fund, allowing them to better protect themselves and others from harm.

Bidding will open on a new online platform launched by the Home Office, where forces will decide how much funding they apply for based on the threat and risk in their local area.”

30.  UK: The Queen’s Speech: setting the ‘public’ against its ‘enemies’ (IRR, link) by Frances Webber:

What will be the ramifications of the Conservative government’s policies, as set out in the December Queen’s Speech, for BAME communities and all those fighting for racial justice, both domestically and internationally?

In the field of criminal justice, the proposed new offence of criminal trespass on land dramatically intensifies the war on Gypsies and Travellers – communities under siege from local authorities and central government…

Other ‘tough on crime’ proposed legislation will stipulate longer sentences for those convicted of serious violence, sexual or terrorism offences, with a 14-year minimum proposed for the most serious terrorism offences, and restrictions on early release…

In the field of immigration and asylum, the deletion of the May government’s pledge to retain the right of stranded child refugees to join family members in the UK following Brexit has angered those working with child refugees in Calais and elsewhere in Europe…

In a blow against those wishing to show international solidarity, public bodies such as local authorities and universities are to be banned from ‘imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, divestment or sanctions [BDS] campaigns’…”

See: The Conservative government programme: The Queen’s Speech 2019 (pdf)

31.  GREECE: Migrants face increasingly hostile conditions (Al Jazeera, link):

Refugees and migrants trying to make their journey into Europe are facing increasingly hostile conditions – forcing them to take huge risks to their safety.

Closed borders, police brutality and a suspicious public are combining to make already desperate journeys often impossible.

In the first of a series of reports on the main overland route from Greece to Croatia, Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee found refugees are becoming increasingly reliant on organised people smuggling.”

32.  UNHCR’s Recommendations for the Croatian and German Presidencies of the Council of the European Union (EU) January – December 2020 (pdf):

1. Moving ahead with sustainable asylum reform

I. Foster responsibility sharing and solidarity within the EU;
II. Ensure access to territory and fair and fast procedures;
III. Support integration and efficient and rights-based return systems;
IV. Invest in resettlement and complementary pathways; and
V. Addressing statelessness.

2. Providing more development and peacebuilding support for the countries where most refugees live and originate from

I. Asylum and forced displacement in the new Neighbourhood, Development and
International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI)
II. EU political leverage to promote inclusion of refugees.

33. Transforming the EU in a freedom security and justice area: first Council ideas for a Strategic Agenda (2019-2024) (free-group.eu, link):

“This is a joint discussion paper for both justice and home affairs submitted by the Croatian Presidency to the other delegations and to be debated at the Informal JHA Council in Zagreb on January 23rd-24th.”

34. Greece: Chios: Protesters boo, throw water bottles at Dep Labor Minister over Migration policy (keeptalkinggreece.com, link):

“Serious incidents erupted in the town hall of the island of Chios on Monday night, where Deputy Minister of Labor, Notis Mitarakis was booed and became the target of protesters angry over the government’s migration policy and the creation of a new structure for refugees and migrants.

A group of protesters had gathered outside the town hall and started to boo and fire insults when the deputy minister arrived. Mitarakis was helped by to seek refugee inside the hall.

The protesters finally broke the door outside and entered the building. Some of them reportedly threw water bottles and coffee cups at the minister.

Police detianed two of the protesters, one of them was arrested.”

35. Dozens of German cities petition to take in more refugees (DW, link):

“The European Union has decreased its Mediterranean rescue efforts, while Greece and Italy are struggling to deal with displaced people who have already arrived. German cities are demanding permission to take action.”

36. Greece to build new facilities for 15,000 migrants (euobserver, link):

“The Greek government has decided to build 10 new facilities to house 15,000 migrants, as new irregular arrivals from neighbouring Turkey continue. Nine of the 10 centres will be built in western Macedonia and one on the island of Crete. The purpose is to relocate people from overpopulated migration camps on the Aegean island as soon as possible. The first 10,000 migrants should be relocated in February.”

37. Chios municipal council rejected plan for closed migrant centre (ekathimerini.com, link):

“The municipal council of the island of Chios, in the eastern Aegean, rejected a government proposal to set up a new, closed pre-departure center for migrants on the island, in a marathon session that ended at midnight on Monday.”

38IRELAND: Concerns ‘spying powers’ still being used despite ruling Irish legislation breached EU law (Irish Examiner, link):

“The use of a controversial spying power by law enforcement agencies has fallen sharply since a landmark ruling that Irish legislation breached EU law.

However, one legal authority expressed concern that the powers are still being used to a significant extent despite the ruling.

TJ McIntyre, associate professor of law at UCD, said the exercise of the powers is in breach of both the High Court judgement of December 2018 and previous European court rulings.

The High Court ruled that 2011 legislation allowing State agencies to access people’s private communication data provided for an “indiscriminate” data-retention regime and breached privacy rights under EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

39.  UK: Priti Patel defends inclusion of Extinction Rebellion on UK terror list (The Guardian, link):

The home secretary, Priti Patel, has defended anti-terror police for putting the Extinction Rebellion environmental protest group on a list of extremist ideologies, saying it was important to look at “a range of security risks”.

While accepting that XR was not a terrorist organisation, Patel told LBC radio that such assessment had to be “based in terms of risk to the public, security risks, security threats”.”

See: Terrorism police list Extinction Rebellion as extremist ideology (The Guardian, link) and: UK: Files on politicians, journalists and peace protestors held by police in “domestic extremist” database (Statewatch News, November 2013)

40.  Europol Study: Disclosure of electronic evidence often fails due to incompetence of authorities (Matthias Monroy, link):

The planned EU e-Evidence regulation is intended to force Internet service providers to cooperate more with police and judicial authorities. However, a survey shows that the companies already comply with their requests voluntarily. But they are often incorrect and thus rejected.

See: Europol: SIRIUS EU Digital Evidence Situation Report 2019: Cross-border access to electronic evidence (pdf)

41.  UK: Undercover Inequality: Help challenge sexism in the justice system (CrowdJustice, link):

When does lying in a sexual relationship undermine consent?

The criminal justice system currently imprisons young women found guilty of impersonating men in a sexual relationship. But, when male undercover police have sex with women in order to gather intelligence on social justice and environmental movements, they have committed no crime.

Help us challenge this sexism and clarify the criminal law.”

42.  UK: No sanctuary for migrants: Undocumented migrants criminalised (Big Issue North, link):

Forces detain refused asylum seekers and undocumented migrants for a variety of immigration offences – with Immigration, Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) agents sometimes even working out of police stations. The trend reflects what Bhatia, from Birkbeck College at the University of London, sees as the merging of the UK immigration and criminal justice systems in recent years.

He said: “Using a false passport, for example, used to be a civil offence but now it’s dealt with under criminal law. There are now 89 immigration-related offences on the statute books where a person can go to prison.

“The focus on the inherent ‘dangerousness’ of this group and re-classification of immigration breaches as serious criminal offences mean the system frequently resorts to imprisonment for what are non-violent offences.””

43.  12 migrants found dead after boat sinks off western Greece (ekathimerini, link):

Greece’s coast guard reports that 12 bodies of migrants have been collected from the Ionian Sea, southwest of the Greek island of Paxos in western Greece, after their boat took in water and sank.

A coast guard spokesperson told the Associated Press that 21 migrants had been safely recovered from the sea. “The initial report is that 50 people were in the boat,” he said.

There was no further information about the migrants, including age, gender and ethnic background.”

44.  EU-ERITREA: How Forced Labor in Eritrea Is Linked to E.U.-Funded Projects (The New York Times, link):

BRUSSELS ­ The European Union spent 20 million euros last year in Eritrea, hoping to help stem an exodus from the repressive African country, which is consistently one of its biggest sources of asylum seekers.

The money, about $22 million, bought equipment and materials to build a road, a seemingly uncontroversial task. The catch? Many workers on the construction site are forced conscripts, and the European Union has no real means of monitoring the project.

The decision caused outrage in human-rights circles. But that did not stop the bloc in December from deciding to give Eritrea tens of millions more, funding a system of forced conscription that the United Nations has described as “tantamount to enslavement.””

45.  The Hope Project Charity Auction London, 6–17 January 2020

Christie’s is proud to present a charity auction to benefit The Hope Project, which is founded on the principles of dignity, compassion and safety for all.

The Hope Project Arts is a safe place for refugees to express themselves through art, theatre, poetry, music, dance and so much more, while teaching others new skills and promoting a sense of community and understanding.

The Hope Project’s overriding focus is the mental health of refugees on Lesvos. The artworks exhibited here were all created by refugees in The Hope Project art studio, many of whom are still living on the island.

The sale will take place in London on 13 January 2020 at 7:15 pm Christie’s, King Street, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6QT

Viewing: 6 – 17 January, 8:30 – 6:30pm St James’s Piccadilly Church and 9, 10 & 13 January, 8:30 – 6:30pm Christie’s, King Street

46.  EU: EASO operations to double in size this year (EASO, link):

In December 2019, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) signed Operating Plans with the national asylum authorities of Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta, following needs-based discussions on the support which the Agency will provide throughout 2020.

In 2020, EASO will see its operational deployments double in size, with up to 550 personnel deployed in Greece, 150 in Italy, 120 in Cyprus and 60 in Malta. In addition, interpreters and security personnel will be deployed in the four Member States, bringing the total deployment up to as many as 2,000 personnel. Cyprus, Greece and Malta will all see a doubling of EASO personnel, while operational deployments in Italy will be decreased in light of changing needs on the part of the Italian authorities.”

47.  SCOTLAND: SCVO warns against extension of Scottish Freedom of Information Act (ThirdSector, link):

Extending the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act to charities that deliver public sector services would create a “disproportionate burden” on voluntary sector organisations, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has warned the Scottish government.

In its response last month to a consultation by the Scottish government about extending FOI legislation, the SCVO says it has concerns about the “potential financial and operational implications” for the voluntary sector and the lack of engagement with the sector to date, particularly during the consultation period.

The consultation, which closed last month, suggested extending the FOI Act in Scotland to cover organisations that deliver public services.”

48.  EU: Irregular migration into EU at lowest level since 2013 (Frontex, link):

The number of irregular border crossings detected on the European Union’s external borders last year fell to the lowest level since 2013 due to a drop in the number of people reaching European shores via the Central and Western Mediterranean routes.

Preliminary 2019 data collected by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, showed a 6% fall in illegal border crossings along the EU’s external borders to just over 139 000. This is 92% below the record number set in 2015.

The number of irregular migrants crossing the Central Mediterranean fell roughly 41% to around 14 000. Nationals of Tunisia and Sudan accounted for the largest share of detections on this route.

The total number of irregular migrants detected in the Western Mediterranean dropped approximately 58% to around 24 000, with Moroccans and Algerians making up the largest percentage.”

49.  MALTA: UNHCR concerned about fire at reception centre, calls for urgent action on detention conditions (UNHCR, link):

UNHCR is deeply concerned about the fire that broke out at the Initial Reception Centre in Marsa on Wednesday 8th January 2020.

It is a relief that there were no serious injuries. We thank the staff of the government Agency for the Welfare of Asylum-Seekers (AWAS) and emergency services for acting swiftly to make sure everyone was safe. There are currently around 450 asylum-seekers residing at the centre, including around 180 children.

While condemning all forms of violence and vandalism, we reiterate that detaining people, including children, for prolonged periods has a detrimental effect on mental and physical wellbeing. The substandard conditions in the centres contribute to the feeling of frustration among asylum-seekers, many of whom arrived in Malta after having experienced inhumane treatment when fleeing their country and on their journey. Detention of asylum-seekers in a manner that is not within strict legal basis needs to be addressed as a matter of priority.”

See: 20 arrests after large fire at Marsa migrants centre (Times of Malta, link): “Hundreds of people were evacuated from an initial reception centre in Marsa on Wednesday after a large fire broke out inside one of its dormitories. 

50.  UK: MPs reject Labour’s call to reinstate child refugee pledge (BBC News, link):

The Commons has rejected an attempt by Labour to reinstate child refugee protection rights in the Brexit bill.

MPs voted 348 to 252 against the amendment, which would have guaranteed the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with family living in the UK after Brexit.

The pledge was included in a previous version of the Brexit bill, but was removed after the Tories’ election win.

The government said it had “a proud record of helping vulnerable children.””

51.  MALTA: MV Lifeline captain conviction overturned on appeal (Malta Independent, link):

“MV Lifeline captain Claus Peter Reisch is a free man, after the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned his conviction for ship registration irregularities.

In May last year, Captain Claus Peter Reisch had been found guilty of not having his ship’s registration in order and was fined €10,000, with the court refusing the prosecution’s request to confiscate the vessel.

Reisch had been in charge of the vessel when it rescued 234 stranded migrants at sea in 2018. The rescue had caused an international dispute, with the Lifeline eventually being allowed to dock in Valletta, after which the rescued migrants were distributed amongst a number of EU countries.

Reisch had been charged with entering Maltese territorial waters without the necessary registration or licence.”

52.  MALTA: 24 arrests made in Safi migrants’ centre protest (Times of Malta, link):

The police made 24 arrests late on Monday after a violent protest by migrants at Safi Detention Centre.

The protest started at about 7.30pm, with several people banging on fences and trying to rush the gate.

Police said the migrants, many of them with hooded, also started removing stone slabs from their dorms, smashing them and throwing stones at the police.

The administrative offices were also damaged.

The police deployed reinforcements and a number of arrests were made.

No one was injured. ”

53.  UK: DNA supplied by public to trace their ancestry should be available to police, according to majority of Britons (The Telegraph, link):

DNA that the public supply to private firms to trace their ancestry should be available to police investigating crimes, says a majority of Britons.

Some 55 per cent of people believe that the police should be able to access the DNA records of people held in private databases, according to a YouGov poll of 1,621 adults.

About one in 20 (five per cent) of Britons, equivalent to around 2.5 million people, told researchers they had used a DNA test kit, with a further eight per cent, saying they planned to do so in the future.”

54.  Libya militias rake in millions in European migration funds: AP (Al Jazeera, link):

When the European Union started funnelling millions of euros into Libya to slow the tide of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, the money came with EU promises to improve detention centres notorious for abuse and fight human trafficking.

That has not happened. Instead, the misery of migrants in Libya has spawned a thriving and highly lucrative web of businesses funded in part by the EU and enabled by the United Nations, an Associated Press investigation has found.”

55.  Italy Faces Complaint at UN Over ‘Abusive’ Libya Asylum Returns (The Globe Post, link):

Campaigners filed a complaint with the United Nations on Wednesday against Italy over a teenage migrant who was sent back to Libya in 2018 along with other migrants, where he was shot, beaten, and subjected to forced labor.

The Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) lodged the case with the U.N. Human Rights Committee aiming to challenge the practice of E.U. coastal states like Italy engaging commercial ships to return vulnerable people to unsafe locations.

The NGO says it is the first case of its kind to target so-called privatized push-backs.”

See: CASE: PRIVATISED MIGRANT ABUSE (Global Legal Action Network, link) and: Privatised Push-Back of the Nivin (Forensic Architecture, link)

56.  50 countries ranked by how they’re collecting biometric data and what they’re doing with it (Comparitech, link):

From passport photos to accessing bank accounts with fingerprints, the use of biometrics is growing at an exponential rate. And while using your fingerprint may be easier than typing in a password, just how far is too far when it comes to biometric use, and what’s happening to your biometric data once it’s collected, especially where governments are concerned?

Here at Comparitech, we’ve analyzed 50 different countries to find out where biometrics are being taken, what they’re being taken for, and how they’re being stored. While there is huge scope for biometric data collection, we have taken 5 key areas that apply to most countries (so as to offer a fair country-by-country comparison and to ensure the data is available). Each country has been scored out of 25, with high scores indicating extensive and invasive use of biometrics and/or surveillance and a low score demonstrating better restrictions and regulations regarding biometric use and surveillance.”

57.  Pole and Hungarian brothers be – EU member states fuel the rise of pro-government propaganda with taxpayers money (Atlatszo, link):

With almost 500 media titles owned by one pro-government foundation and hundreds of millions of euros of state advertising yearly to fuel it, the right-wing Hungarian government built the largest propaganda machinery in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Poland follows suit with a growing stream of taxpayers money transferred to media openly supporting the governing party. In return, both governments can count on propaganda broadcasts and no difficult questions from journalists.

58.  UK: More police, more prosecutions, more punishment (CCJS, link):

To 1945, 1979 and 1997 might be added 2019: a pivotal General Election with the potential to reshape policy and politics in the UK for a generation.

In the case of criminal justice, we should expect a resumption of the kind of criminal justice growth and expansion last seen under the Labour governments between 1997 and 2010, an expansion that, temporarily at least, the coalition and Conservative governments between 2010 and 2019 successfully halted… After a decade of no prison growth, the new government looks set to pick up where the Major, Blair and Brown governments left off.”

59.  Facial recognition fails on race, government study says (BBC News, link):

A US government study suggests facial recognition algorithms are far less accurate at identifying African-American and Asian faces compared to Caucasian faces.

African-American females were even more likely to be misidentified, it indicated.

It throws fresh doubt on whether such technology should be used by law enforcement agencies.”

See: NIST Study Evaluates Effects of Race, Age, Sex on Face Recognition Software (NIST, link)

60.  UK: MI5 policy allowing informants to commit serious crimes ruled lawful (The Guardian, link):

MI5’s partially secret policy allowing agents and informants to participate in serious crimes is lawful, judges have ruled by a three-to-two majority.

In a 56-page judgment, the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT), which hears legal complaints about the intelligence agencies, declared that the guidelines do not breach human rights or grant absolute immunity to those who commit offences such as murder or torture.

It is the first time the IPT has published dissenting judgments, both of which in this case are highly critical of the statutory framework surrounding the handling of agents. Many of the key arguments turned on the exploitation of informants within the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries during Northern Ireland’s Troubles.”

Judgment: Privacy International & others v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs & others ([2019] UKIPTrib IPT_17_186_CH, pdf) and:Press summary (pdf)

61.  The ever-rising securitisation of mixed migration (Mixed Migration Centre, link):

Over the last decade there has been a surge in the securitisation of different aspects of migration, especially in relation to mixed flows, including refugees, using irregular pathways. This essay outlines what securitised and criminalised mixed migration looks like and how security concerns are used to justify and normalise what were previously exceptional policies and practices around the world. It will also explore how these trends might change in the future.

62.  UK: Decade of dissent: how protest is shaking the UK and why it’s likely to continue (The Conversation, link):

This is the age of dissent – and the last decade saw a large rise in protest events across the UK. The relative social peace of the 1990s and 2000s has given way to a period of economic crisis and social conflict, sparked by the global economic crisis of 2008 and its aftermath.

Many viewed 2011 as the high point of this wave of protest – with occupations of public spaces taking place across the globe, not least during the Arab Spring. But the trend has, in fact, continued to proliferate throughout the decade. While austerity was the initial driver of protest in the UK, a wide range of issues are now leading to dissent.

…In 2019 there were over 280 reported protest events, compared with 154 in 2010 – and only 83 in 2007, the year before the global economic crisis hit.”

63.   UK Police Snowden Probe Declared “Inactive” (Ryan Gallagher, link):

In 2013, London’s Metropolitan Police began a criminal investigation focusing on journalists who reported stories from a trove of secret documents leaked by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Now, after six years and no arrests or prosecutions, the Met has confirmed that the investigation has been shelved.

The Met told me in response to a recent Freedom of Information request that the investigation is “inactive pending further information being received.” Since 2014, I’ve had several updates from the Met regarding the investigation, and this marks the first time that its status has changed from “ongoing.” In November 2017, the Met stated that it was a “complex investigation and enquiries continue.”

The investigation, which was given the code-name Operation Curable, had been led by the Met’s Counter-Terrorism Command, under the direction of assistant commissioner Mark Rowley. In March 2018, Rowley retired from the Met — and with his departure, it seems the Curable investigation went cold.”

64.  Statewatch Workshop on Northern Ireland: THE LEGACY OF COLLUSION

Statewatch Workshop on Northern Ireland: Thursday 30 January 2020: 18.00 – 20.00 at:

Statewatch, c/o: MAYDAY ROOMS, 88 Fleet St, London EC4Y

If you would like to come to the Workshop please send an email with “NI Workshop book” in the subject line to: statewatch-off@geo2.poptel.org.uk:

65.  Brexit: Johnson condemned for dropping pledge to replace family reunion law (Guardian, link):

“Lawyers warn loss of reunion rights for unaccompanied refugee children will put them in danger.

The loss of family reunion rights for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children will leave them with “no options” except taking dangerous routes and using smugglers, charities in France and Greece are warning.

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, faced criticism after he told parliament he had dropped a promise to replace the EU law that allows child refugees stranded in Europe to reunite with family members in the UK after Brexit.

Clare Moseley, the director of Care4Calais, said the news was devastating for those working with young asylum-seekers.”

66. Greece: Unaccompanied Children at Risk – Arriving Alone in Island Camp, They Face Insecurity, Neglect (HRW, link):

” Hundreds of unaccompanied children on the Greek island of Lesbos are exposed to inhuman and degrading living conditions, Human Rights Watch said today. Children, unable to secure a place in the overcrowded specialized accommodation for unaccompanied children, face unsanitary and insecure conditions sleeping rough, sometimes in the open, in other formal and informal parts of the camp on the island.

“Hundreds of lone children on Lesbos are left to fend for themselves, sleeping on mats and cardboard boxes, exposed to worsening and dangerous weather conditions,” said Eva Cossé, Greece  researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Greek authorities need to urgently make sure these children are safe and cared for.”

__________________________________________
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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