Statewatch News Online,14 2020 (9/20)

14 July 2020 — Statewatch

e-mail: office@statewatch.org

Also available as a pdf file: https://www.statewatch.org/media/1230/email-14-7-20.pdf

STATEWATCH ANALYSES

1.  Analysis: Spain/Portugal/Italy: Partial relief: migrant regularisations during the COVID-19 pandemic by Yurema Pallarés Pla

STATEWATCH NEWS

1.   NGOs and individuals call for revocation of Libya’s maritime search and rescue zone
2.   UN Committee Against Torture should launch inquiry into Italy’s role in ‘pull-backs’ to Libya,
3.   Council of Europe: Pushbacks and border violence against refugees must end
4.   EU: Study on the implementation of the European Arrest Warrant
5.   Cyprus: Call for action after conviction of NGO for “defamation” and “harmful forgery
6.   UK: How video hearings broke justice and stripped people of their rights
7.   Hungary’s restrictions on civil society groups are “discriminatory and unjustified”, Court rules
8.   UK: BAME, refugee and migrant deaths in custody (2014 – 2020)
9.  A role for Europol in making decisions on visa applications?
10.  Frontex splashes out: millions of euros for new technology and equipment
11.  EU: Damning draft report on the implementation of the Return Directive
12. Refugee crisis; 30 June-6 July 2020
13. Refugee crisis: 9-29 June 2020
14.  Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.5-8.6.20)
15.  Europe: COVID-19 lockdowns expose racial bias and discrimination within police
16. UK: Covid gave Government extra powers, but our human rights are at stake
17. EU: Here we go again (again, again): push for asylum centres at the external borders
18. Greece: Unrest as government passes new anti-protest law
19. Europol: plans afoot to legalise unlawful acts
20. COVID-19 opens the way for the use of police drones in Greece

NEWS

1. Just Action: Green Shoots on Samos
2. Dutch government under growing pressure to take in child refugees
3. Greece’s new asylum system designed to deport, not protect
4.  BAME, refugee and migrant deaths in custody (2014 – 2020)
5.  UN agrees to urgent debate on racism and police violence
6.  Council of Europe: Pushbacks and border violence against refugees must end
7.   Remote control:  EU-Libya collaboration in mass interceptions of migrants in Central Med
8.   Open letter: Commission must prioritise addressing police violence and structural racism in EU
9.    England: Police presence at school ‘criminalises BME students
10. Report: Race and Racism in English Secondary Schools
11.  Greece: Only 18 NGOs allowed to operate within migrants & refugees centers
12.  CJEU asked to rule on acquisition of nationality in light of EU citizenship
13.  EU ‘covered up’ Croatia’s failure to protect migrants from border brutality
14.  Belgian Jewish community feeling vulnerable over scaling back counter-terror patrols
15.  A fourth pillar for the United Nations? The rise of counter-terrorism
16.  Europol uses Palantir
17.  ECHR-FRANCE :Conviction of activists BDS campaign boycotting products imported from Israel
18.  IOM Alarmed over Reports of Pushbacks from Greece at EU Border with Turkey
19.  Beyond the US: Police brutality, structural racism are a problem in Europe too
20.  Controversial US facial recognition technology likely illegal, EU body says
21.  EU: Ending Gag Lawsuits in Europe Protecting Democracy and Fundamental Rights
22.  Maltese official to be posted in Libya in fight against illegal immigration
23.  Croatia: Further Evidence of Systemic Push-Backs at the Border with Bosnia
24.  DEATHS IN CUSTODY: I know how George Floyds family feels I watched my brother die
25.  Scaled-up surveillance: the EU builds a massive biometric database
26. UK: Four UK neo-Nazis jailed for membership of National Action
27.  UK may have been complicit in torture of 15 more people, court hearing reveals
28.  UK-USA: DRONES: Joint Enterprise: How the UK and the US co-operate on drone warfare
29.  UK: Simeon Francis: Investigation launched after black man dies in police custody in Devon
30.  EU-Libya collaboration – pull-backs by remote control
31.  EU:  Europol launches the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre
32.  Can the EU make AI trustworthy? No but they can make it just
33.  UK-IRELAND: First post-Brexit request for UK extradition now before the High Court
34.  Immediate action needed to disembark migrants held on ships off Malta’s coast
35. Black Lives Matter – whatever their nationality
36. Malta: Renewed call for justice 1,000 days after the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia
37. UN: Armed drones: Special Rapporteur examines the dawning of the “second drone age”
38.  EU pays for surveillance in Gulf of Tunis
39. No Israeli drones fly for Frontex after crash

VIRUS NEWS

1. EU: Parliamentary oversight in the health crisis
2. Brexit: EU accuses UK of trying to maintain economic benefits amid coronavirus recession
3UK: Revealed: online covid tests refused to those not on credit check database
4.  Something to declare? Surfacing issues with immunity certificates
5.  EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Terrorism in Times of Corona
6.  Europe: COVID-19 lockdowns expose racial bias and discrimination within police

STATEWATCH ANALYSES

1. Spain/Portugal/Italy: Partial relief: migrant regularisations during the COVID-19 pandemic by Yurema Pallarés Pla

The uncertainty that the Covid-19 outbreak has brought to every sphere of life has had a major impact on already vulnerable groups, such as undocumented migrants. People who, for whatever reason, lack official authorisation to stay, live and work in a particular state usually live with constant fear of being detained or receiving an expulsion order after a spontaneous stop by the police. Among the different measures approved by European countries under states of emergency, some have addressed the situation of migrant populations.

This article looks at the cases of Portugal, Italy and Spain, which have been praised by the general public for appearing to offer regularisation, or an end to detention. However, the positive tone – probably exacerbated by the need for good news – has set aside details that suggest a less optimistic outcome.

STATEWATCH NEWS

1.  Press release: Hundreds of NGOs and individuals call for the revocation of Libya’s maritime search and rescue zone

London, 29 June 2020 – The civil liberties organisation Statewatch has today delivered an open letter with hundreds of signatories to Mr Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of International Maritime Organization (IMO), calling on him to revoke the Libyan maritime search and rescue (SAR) zone [2] in order to prevent the so-called Libyan Coast Guard undertaking ‘pull-backs’ of migrants to Libya, where they face violence, abuse and mistreatment.

2. UN Committee Against Torture should launch inquiry into Italy’s role in ‘pull-backs’ to Libya, says migrants’ rights group

The Swiss Committee for the Defence of the Rights of Migrants has called on the UN Committee Against Torture to launch an inquiry into Italy’s role in ‘pull-backs’ to Libya. A formal inquiry by the Committee would be able to establish the legal facts surrounding Italy’s practices.

3. Council of Europe: Pushbacks and border violence against refugees must end

The Council of Europe issues a strong statement on World Refugee Day calling for an end to “blatant violations of refugees’ rights.”

4. EU: Study on the implementation of the European Arrest Warrant

A study on the implementation of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) commissioned by the European Parliament’s civil liberties commitee (LIBE) concludes that it “has simplified and sped up handover procedures, including for some high-profile cases of serious crime and terrorism,” but that there are ongoing challenges “concerning judicial independence, the nature of mutual recognition and its relationship with international and EU law and values, constitutional principles and additional harmonisation measures.”

5.  Cyprus: Call for action following conviction of human rights organisation for “defamation” and “harmful forgery”

KISA, a human rights organisation based in Cyprus, was recently convicted by the Supreme Court of “defamation” and “harmful forgery” over a 2010 document calling on the government to rescind the appointment of Christos Clerides and Xenis Xenofontos to the Management Board of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).

6.  UK: How video hearings broke justice and stripped people of their rights

Wired reports on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the justice system, where the vast majority of hearings in magistrates’ courts are now being conducted by videolink.

7. Hungary’s restrictions on civil society groups are “discriminatory and unjustified”, Court of Justice rules

The Court of Justice of the EU has ruled that restrictions imposed by Hungary on civil society organisations – which require registration, declaration and publication for certain categories of groups receiving funds from abroad – are “discriminatory and unjustified”, on the grounds that they restrict the free movement of capital and unjustifably impunge upon the fundamental rights to privacy, data protection and freedom of association

8. UK: BAME, refugee and migrant deaths in custody (2014 – 2020)

Updated statistics from the Institute of Race Relations lay bare the degree of impunity for the deaths in custody of black, ethnic minority, migrant and refugee persons.

9.  A role for Europol in making decisions on visa applications?

Since May 2018, EU institutions have been discussing changes to the Visa Information System (VIS), a large-scale database that holds data on tens of millions of applicants for short-stay Schengen visas. The proposed changes would introduce a number of new features, including a direct role for Europol in decision-making, if the Commission and Council get their way.

This would be a significant extension of the agency’s powers. There are further concerns about the agency becoming a “black box” for data from third countries that might be used against travellers to the EU.

10.  Frontex splashes out: millions of euros for new technology and equipment

The approval of the new Frontex Regulation in November 2019 implied an increase of competences, budget and capabilities for the EU’s border agency, which is now equipping itself with increased means to monitor events and developments at the borders and beyond, as well as renewing its IT

11.  EU: Damning draft report on the implementation of the Return Directive

Tineke Strik, the Green MEP responsible for overseeing the passage through the European Parliament of the ‘recast Return Directive’, which governs certain common procedures regarding the detention and expulsion of non-EU nationals, has prepared a report on the implementation of the original 2008 Return Directive. It criticises the Commission’s emphasis, since 2017, on punitive enforcement measures, at the expense of alternatives that have not been fully explored or implemented by the Commission or the member states, despite the 2008 legislation providing for them.

12. Refugee crisis: 30 June-13 July 2020
·         Greece: Criminal charges pressed against the asylum seekers who arrived in Lesvos in March 2020
·         State of emergency declared on Mediterranean rescue ship

·         Denmark may return Syria refugees as Damascus area deemed ‘safe’

13. Refugee crisis: 9-29 June 2020
·         Hundreds of NGOs and individuals call for the revocation of Libya’s maritime search and rescue zone
·         Remote control: the EU-Libya collaboration in mass interceptions of migrants in the Central Mediterranean
·         Greece: Only 18 of 40 NGOs working in migrant and refugee centres apply for registration
·         Digital technologies and borders: Joint submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism

·         EU ‘covered up’ Croatia’s failure to protect migrants from border brutality

14.   Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.5-8.6.20) including:
·         Analysis: Partial relief: migrant regularisations during the COVID-19 pandemic
·         Analysis: Reinforcement of Frontex runs into legal problems
·         Tents at Sea: How Greek Officials Use Rescue Equipment for Illegal Deportations
·         HUNGARY: No more transit zones, now asylum seekers will have to apply abroad

·         369 Syrians deported to Turkey through EU fund for refugees

15.  Europe: COVID-19 lockdowns expose racial bias and discrimination within police

A new report from Amnesty International looks at how police forces across Europe have enforced lockdown restrictions – and finds that ethnic minorities and other marginalised groups have been disproportionately targeted.

16. UK: Covid gave the Government extra powers, but our human rights are at stake if they don’t let them go

Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, calls for the repeal of the UK’s draconian Coronavirus Act, 100 days after it passed into law.

17. EU: Here we go again (again, again): push for asylum centres at the external borders

Those not expelled following an unsuccessful asylum claim or relocated following a successful one would “end up in some sort of facility,” reports EUobserver.

18. Greece: Unrest as government passes new anti-protest law

There have been demonstrations across Greece against a new law which introduces a requirement to apply for a ‘licence to protest’. In Athens, where more than 10,000 people gathered in opposition to the new measures, police reportedly detained 24 people. Violence broke out when a group of protesters threw petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas and flash grenades. Demonstrations have been held outside courts in support of those arreste09 July 2020

19. Europol: plans afoot to legalise unlawful acts

The European Commission recently launched a consultation on possible changes to Europol’s mandate, which would give the policing agency greater data-gathering and processing powers. Some of the proposals under consideration would legalise ongoing activities for which there is currently no legal basis, such as the processing of the personal data of innocent people. Statewatch’s submission to the consultation called for a much broader discussion on the agency’s role and operations.

20. COVID-19 opens the way for the use of police drones in Greece

As part of EDRi’s series on ‘COVIDTech’, Greek digital rights organisation Homo Digitalis examines how the pandemic has provided the perfect opportunity for Greek police to make use of new rules allowing the deployment of drones for law enforcement purposes.

NEWS

1. Just Action: Green Shoots on Samos (Samos Chronicles, link):

“Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Vasilis and Lene who have created Just Action, a new NGO on Samos. In the few months of its existence Just Action has more than lived up to its name distributing thousands of food parcels to both refugees and locals across the island and cleaning the jungle which is the home to thousands of refugees.”

2. Dutch government under growing pressure to take in child refugees (The Observer, link):

Protests call for coalition to admit 500 unaccompanied minors from Greek islands.

They have gathered in city squares, parks and on piers with the water lapping at their feet. In silent, physically distanced protests, demonstrators stand 1.5 metres apart, some holding signs saying “WeesWelkom” (be welcome) and “500 Kinderen” (500 children).

Since April, protests have taken place across the Netherlands to lobby the Dutch government to take in 500 unaccompanied children living in squalid camps on the Greek islands.”

3. Greece’s new asylum system designed to deport, not protect

Press release from Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees.

4.  BAME, refugee and migrant deaths in custody (2014 – 2020) (IRR News, link):

“Here we publish a list of BAME, refugee and migrant deaths in custody from 2014 – 2020 that took place in prison, in immigration detention or involving police. This list has been compiled by IRR, using IRR News coverage and media releases by the organisation Inquest. Read a comment piece on these statistics here.

Alongside the lists of custody deaths, we publish a comment piece that highlights restraint concern, the frequency with which mental illness is part of the scenario and continued police impunity – not one officer has been convicted since the IRR started collecting figures on black deaths in 1969.”

5.  UN agrees to urgent debate on racism and police violence (DW, link):

“The UN Human Rights Council will hold a debate this week on racism and police violence, in response to an urgent request from African nations.”

6.  Council of Europe: Pushbacks and border violence against refugees must end (link):

“World Refugee Day will spotlight the hardship that refugees endure. I pay tribute to the resilience of refugees and reiterate the call to protect them and uphold their rights”, said today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, ahead of World Refugee Day. “All too often, additional hardship is deliberately inflicted on refugees by many of the states to which they turn for protection, including in Europe. This is inhumane and must stop.

Governments should start with tackling the most blatant violations of refugees’ rights. Pushbacks are a case in point. They are becoming more normalised and are carried out in an increasingly violent way across Europe. The illegal practice of pushbacks not only deprives those who may seek asylum from this opportunity. It also eats away at the foundation of international human rights law which protects refugees.”

7. Remote control: the EU-Libya collaboration in mass interceptions of migrants in the Central Mediterranean (Remote control:the EU-Libya collaboration in mass interceptions of migrants in the Central Mediterranean (link, pdf): Published on June, 17 2020 by: Alarm Phone, Borderline Europe, Mediterranea – Saving Humans, Sea-Watch:

“Key Findings:

1. Remote control: the EU-Libya collaboration in mass interceptions of migrants in the Central Mediterranean2/ 281. EU aerial assets are deployed to detect migrant boats from the air and guide the so-called Libyan Coast Guard to the locations of escaping boats.

2. Aerial surveillance has led to the capture of tens of thousands of people and their return to the Libyan war zone

3. Through both aerial surveillance and coordination activities in migrant interceptions, EU actors have violated their SAR obligations and facilitated interception activities of the Libyan authorities. EU actors are thus complicit in the systematic violation of human rights.”

8.  EU: Open letter: The European Commission must prioritise addressing police violence and structural racism in the EU(link):

“”ENAR and 150+ organisations across Europe co-signed this open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to raise our serious concerns regarding the lack of reaction of EU leaders regarding police brutality against people of colour in Europe as well as institutional and structural racism.”

9. England: Police presence at school ‘criminalises BME students’ (tes.com, link):

“The presence of police in UK schools could lead black and minority ethnic pupils to feel less safe, teachers have warned.

A report published today highlights teachers’ concerns that “placing more police in schools acted to criminalise and pathologise students”.”

10. Report: Race and Racism in English Secondary Schools (runnymedetrust.org, link):

“Runnymede publishes Race and Racism in English Secondary Schools by Dr Remi Joseph-Salisbury of the University of Manchester. The report explores the nature of racism in secondary schools and is organised around four key issues: the teacher workforce; curricula; police; and school policies.”

11.  Greece: Only 18 NGOs allowed to operate within migrants & refugees centers (keeptalkinggreece.com, link):

“Only 18 out of 40 non-governmental organizations operating in migrants and refugees hosting structures have applied to register in the new registry and were granted the right to continue their work. The NGOs that were certified in the old registry of the Interior Ministry had a deadline to register again in the “Register for Greek and Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations” until June 14.

However, less than half of those currently operating in the accommodation centers have applied.”

12.  CJEU asked to rule on acquisition of nationality in light of EU citizenship: The fundamental status on the horizon? (C-118/20 JY v Wiener Landesregierung) (EU Law Analysis, link):

“C-118/20 JY concerns the procedure for acquisition of Austrian nationality, and more specifically at which moment during the procedure the previous nationalities have to be lost, and whether this is in conformity with the rules on EU citizenship.”

13.  EU ‘covered up’ Croatia’s failure to protect migrants from border brutality (The Guardian, link):

EU officials have been accused of an “outrageous cover-up” after withholding evidence of a failure by Croatia’s government to supervise police repeatedly accused of robbing, abusing and humiliating migrants at its borders.

Internal European commission emails seen by the Guardian reveal officials in Brussels had been fearful of a backlash when deciding against full disclosure of Croatia’s lack of commitment to a monitoring mechanism that ministers had previously agreed to fund with EU money.”

Background: Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession (8 November 2019)

14.  Belgian Jewish community feeling vulnerable over scaling back counter-terror patrols (euronews, link):

…it was after the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris and a foiled plot for a strike on Belgian soil around the same time that soldiers were deployed to the streets.

At the height of the threat level in the wake of the 2016 Brussels attacks, 3,000 armed soldiers paced the pavements.

There’s only around 200 remaining now but the operation has cost the Belgian government more than 200 million euros over the past five years.

The defence minister’s proposal is to wind back operations gradually until September with the army only staying on at nuclear sites.

These deployments have caused major divisions among politicians and the military here.”

15.  A fourth pillar for the United Nations? The rise of counter-terrorism (Saferworld, link):

Seventy-five years ago, the Charter of the United Nations (UN) established a new institution with three founding pillars: peace and security, human rights and development.

Over the past 20 years however, a fourth pillar – counter-terrorism – has begun to emerge, through multiple UN Security Council resolutions, a global strategy from the UN General Assembly, the rise of the countering or preventing violent extremism agenda, and the creation of a stand-alone UN Office of Counter-terrorism.

This discussion paper explores the current effects and future implications of the UN’s embrace of counter-terrorism, given the mounting evidence of the harmful impacts of this agenda worldwide.

It finds that the compromises the UN has struck have come to threaten its ability to uphold its Charter, putting the effectiveness of its work for peace, rights and development on the line.”

16.  Europol uses Palantir (Matthias Monroy, link):

The police agency Europol in The Hague has been running the „Gotham“ software of the US company Palantir for several years. This is what the European Commission writes in its answer to a parliamentary question. The application was tested in 2016 within the framework of the „Fraternité“ task force, which Europol set up after the attacks in France at that time. Palantir is criticized for his close cooperation with the military and secret services in the USA.

Since mid-2017, „Gotham“ has been in continuous operation, and Europol is using it for „operational analysis“. This enables investigators to calculate and visualize relationships between persons, objects or the course of events. „Structured data“, such as contact lists, tables from radio cell queries and travel histories, are linked with „unstructured data“ such as photos or location data. This big data analysis is intended to generate new investigative hints.”

17.  ECHR-FRANCE: Criminal conviction of activists involved in the BDS campaign boycotting products imported from Israel had no relevant and sufficient grounds and violated their freedom of expression (press release, pdf):

In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Baldassi and Others v. France (application no. 15271/16) the European Court of Human Rights held:

by a majority, that there had been no violation of Article 7 (no punishment without law) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and

unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the Convention.

The cases concerned a complaint by activists in the Palestinian cause about their criminal conviction for incitement to economic discrimination, on account of their participation in actions aimed at boycotting products imported from Israel as part of the campaign “BDS : Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions”.”

Judgment: AFFAIRE BALDASSI ET AUTRES c. FRANCE (French only, pdf) and: Information note (pdf)

18.  IOM Alarmed over Reports of Pushbacks from Greece at EU Border with Turkey (IOM, link):

“The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is deeply concerned about persistent reports of pushbacks and collective expulsions of migrants, in some cases violent, at the European Union (EU) border between Greece and Turkey. International media reports and footage showing the use of marine rescue equipment to expel migrants across the Eastern Aegean Sea are especially disturbing.

IOM, together with partners, are closely monitoring the situation and have received reports of migrants being arbitrarily arrested in Greece and pushed back to Turkey and violence perpetrated against migrants by some border personnel.

The Organization calls on Greek authorities to investigate these allegations and testimonies given by people forced to cross the Greece-Turkey border.”

19.  Beyond the US: Police brutality, structural racism are a problem in Europe too (euractiv, link):

“Thousands of people have taken to Europe’s streets not only to protest the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the US but to denounce police brutality and structural racism, which is an issue on this side of the Atlantic as well.

Semira Adamu was suffocated by a police officer while she was being repatriated from Belgium, Adama Traoré died in custody hours after he was arrested in France, as did Ousman Sey in Germany. The list, unfortunately, goes on and on.”

20.  Controversial US facial recognition technology likely illegal, EU body says (Politico, link):

“A European privacy body said it “has doubts” that using facial recognition technology developed by U.S. company Clearview AI is legal in the EU.

Clearview AI allows users to link facial images of an individual to a database of more than three billion pictures scraped from social media and other sources. According to media reports, over 600 law enforcement agencies worldwide are using the controversial app.

But in a statement Wednesday, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) said that “the use of a service such as Clearview AI by law enforcement authorities in the European Union would, as it stands, likely not be consistent with the EU data protection regime.” The body issued the statement after MEPs raised questions regarding the use of the company’s software.”

21.  EU: Ending Gag Lawsuits in Europe Protecting Democracy and Fundamental Rights (ECPMF, link):

The EU must end gag lawsuits used to silence individuals and organisations that hold those in positions of power to account. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are lawsuits brought forward by powerful actors (e.g. companies, public officials in their private capacity, high profile persons) to harass and silence those speaking out in the public interest. Typical victims are those with a watchdog role, for instance: journalists, activists, informal associations, academics, trade unions, media organisations and civil society organisations.

Recent examples of SLAPPs include PayPal suing SumOfUs for a peaceful protest outside PayPals German headquarters; co-owners of Maltas Satabank suing blogger Manuel Delia for a blog post denouncing money laundering at Satabank; and Bollore Group suing Sherpa and ReAct in France to stop them from reporting human rights abuses in Cameroon. In Italy more than 6,000 or two-thirds of defamation lawsuits filed against journalists and media outlets annually are dismissed as meritless by a judge. When Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was brutally killed, there were 47 SLAPPs pending against her.”

22.  Maltese official to be posted in Libya in fight against illegal immigration (Times of Malta, link):

A Maltese official will be posted in Tripoli as part of efforts by the Maltese and Libyan governments to stem migration from the north African state.

This emerged from a Memorandum of Understanding between both countries signed last week, which was tabled in parliament by Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Robert Abela, Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo and National Security Minister Byron Camilleri travelled to Libya on Thursday for talks with the head of Libyas Government of National Accord, Fayez al-Sarraj.

The two centres will be commencing operations as from 1 July 2020, and will be manned by six officials.”

See: Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of National Accord of the State of Libya and The Government of The Republic of Malta in the Field of Combatting Illegal Immigration (pdf) and: EU will not pay for boats that held migrants offshore (Times of Malta, link)

23.  Croatia: Further Evidence of Systemic Push-Backs at the Border with Bosnia (ECRE, link):

The Guardian reveals new details of Croatian authorities push-back operations at the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina between 6 and 7 of May 2020, involving more than 30 people, mainly from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

According to the testimonies collected by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), people were forced to enter in a van around Rijeka and driven to the border with Bosnia although some of them requested to apply for asylum. At the border, they underwent different kinds of humiliations by the police including beatings, burning of their belongings. Some officers used spay-painting on their heads while laughing and drinking beers before they were pushed back to the other side of the border.

A report by the Centre for Peace Studies and the Welcome! Initiative Report on violent and illegal expulsion of children and unaccompanied minors published at the end of May documented the repeated use of violence at the borders also against children.”

See also: Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession (8 November 2019)

24.  DEATHS IN CUSTODY: I know how George Floyds family feels I watched my brother die in police custody (New Statesman, link):

“When I saw the video of George Floyd, with a police officer kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes while his life drained away, it reminded me of another black man Id seen slowly die while de tained by police 20 years ago my own brother, Christopher Alder.

…As I watched Christopher lying there on his chest, with his hands behind his back, motionless, a voice inside me wanted to scream at the callous way my brother was dumped and left on the cold stone floor, gasping. I wanted to go and comfort him, but it was all happening on screen, beyond my control. None of his family even knew he was there.

… I feel sure the Floyd family feels the same way: that same combination of disbelief, shock and powerlessness. And I am sure they feel, as I did, the devastating frustration when none of the officers in the video attempted to lift a finger, even those who could clearly see his distress.”

25.  Scaled-up surveillance: the EU builds a massive biometric database (Coda, link):

At its headquarters in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, on the Baltic Coast, a little-known European Union body is building one of the worlds largest biometric identity databases.

The Central Identity Repository (CIR) is designed to hold the records of 300 million people and will be the centerpiece of a new, integrated system that allows police forces across the EU to search and cross-check the records of immigrants and visitors from outside Europe. Established by eu-LISA, an EUs cross border IT agency, [CIR] will cost at least $190 million to establish and $33 million a year to maintain.

The CIR and its associated systems will not be completed until 2023 at the earliest, but the project, which was conceived as a counter-terrorism measure, has already faced criticism from human rights activists and observers.”

See also: Data Protection, Immigration Enforcement and Fundamental Rights: What the EU’s Regulations on Interoperability Mean for People with Irregular Status (November 2019)

26. UK: Four UK neo-Nazis jailed for membership of National Action (The Guardian, link):

Four neo-Nazi diehards convicted of being members of the banned terrorist group National Action have been jailed.

Alice Cutter, a former Miss Hitler beauty pageant contestant, and her former partner Mark Jones were convicted of membership of a terrorist group after a trial in March, alongside co-accused Garry Jack and Connor Scothern.

Sentencing at Birmingham crown court on Tuesday, Judge Paul Farrer QC told Jones he had played a significant role in the continuation of the organisation, after it was banned in December 2016. ”

27.  UK may have been complicit in torture of 15 more people, court hearing reveals (Reprieve, link):

There are at least 15 previously-unidentified cases of people who may have been tortured with UK complicity, it was revealed today, as part of a High Court hearing where the UK Government is trying to push all evidence of the 15 cases into a secret court.

The revelation came as part of a hearing in the Judicial Review brought by human rights NGO Reprieve and MPs David Davis (Con.) and Dan Jarvis (Lab.) on the UK Governments failure to hold an independent, judge-led inquiry into UK complicity in torture and rendition.

The Government argued that evidence of British involvement in torture and rendition should be kept behind closed doors and heard only in secret courts. This includes the product of a recent secret, internal-only MI6 review, which identified 15 new cases of potential UK complicity in torture and rendition, as happened to Libyan dissident Abdul Hakim Belhaj who received a historic apology from the UK in 2018. These 15 cases have never been properly independently investigated.”

28.  UK-USA: DRONES: A Joint Enterprise: How the UK and the US co-operate on drone warfare (Drone Wars, link):

A new report published today by Drone Wars UK investigates the co-operation between the UK and the US in relation to armed drone operations. While the UK insist its armed drone programme is separate and independent to that of the US, our report, Joint Enterprise: An overview of US-UK co-operation on armed drone operations, argues that close historic ties, shared use of infrastructure and tightly integrated operations show that that the two programmes amount to a joint enterprise, with arguably joint liability.

The report lays out how co-operation between the Royal Air Force (RAF) and US Air Force (USAF) takes place in a wide range of areas and maps out the bases, companies, and operational units behind this joint enterprise. It shows how the harmonisation of equipment and concepts of operation, interoperability, and a single centre of command and control help to tie the UK into overseas coalition wars led by the US.”

29.  UK: Simeon Francis: Investigation launched after black man dies in police custody in Devon (The Independent, link):

A black man has died in British police custody after becoming unresponsive in a cell.

A watchdog is investigating the circumstances of Simeon Francis’ death in Devon.

The Independent Office for Police Conducts (IOPC) said he was arrested shortly before 1am in Exeter on 20 May and booked into custody at Torquay Police Station.

He was found unresponsive in his cell and an ambulance was called, but Mr Francis was pronounced dead at around 6pm on the same day.”

30.  EU-Libya collaboration – pull-backs by remote control (Taz, link):

On 17th June we will launch the exclusive report Remote control: the EU-Libya collaboration in mass interceptions of migrants in the Central Mediterranean denouncing the support brought to the so-called Libyan Coast Guard by EU member states to control migration in and around the Central Mediterranean. The EUs increasing outsourcing of responsibility for rescue has led to mass pull-backs of migrants to Libya by remote control from EU aerial assets.

31.  EU: Another new “centre” launched at EuropolEuropol launches the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (press release, link):

Today Europol launched the new European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC). The Centre will enhance the operational support provided to the EU Member States and EU bodies in the fields of financial and economic crime and promote the systematic use of financial investigations. The new EFECC has been set up within the current organisational structure of Europol that is already playing an important part in the European response to financial and economic crime and will be staffed with 65 international experts and analysts.”

And see: Enterprising criminals Europes fight against the global networks of financial and economic crime (pdf)

32.  Can the EU make AI trustworthy? No but they can make it just (EDRi, link):

How to ensure a trustworthy AI has been highly debated since the European Commission launched its White Paper on AI in February this year. Policymakers and industry have hosted numerous conversations about innovation, Europe becoming a leader in AI, and promoting a Fair AI.

Yet, a fair or trustworthy artificial intelligence seems a far way off. As governments, institutions and industry swiftly move to incorporate AI into their systems and decision-making processes grave concerns remain as to how these changes will impact people, democracy and society as a whole.

EDRis response outlines the main risks AI poses for people, communities and society, and outlines recommendations for an improved, truly human-centric legislative proposal on AI. We argue that the EU must reinforce the protections already embedded in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), outline clear legal limits for AI by focusing on impermissible use, and foreground principles of collective impact, democratic oversight, accountability, and fundamental rights. Heres a summary of our main points.”

33.  UK-IRELAND: First post-Brexit request for UK extradition now before the High Court (Irish Independent, link):

The first British extradition request sent to Ireland since the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement concluded between the UK and the EU has come before the High Court in Dublin.

Welsh man Wesley Purse (42) was supposed to be serving 12 years in an English prison when he was caught cultivating 112 cannabis plants in Co Tipperary on May 3, 2017…

He is also wanted to face charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, affray and possession of a baseball bat arising out of an alleged attack on a male in the UK on August 8, 2015…

Reserving his decision for three weeks, Mr Justice Paul Burns said yesterday he had to consider seeking additional information from the UK authorities before deciding on Purse’s proposed surrender.”

34.  Immediate action needed to disembark migrants held on ships off Maltas coast (COE, link):

The situation of more than 400 persons kept on private ships just outside Maltas territorial waters is unsustainable and requires immediate action, said today Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

Since Malta closed its ports in response to the Covid-19 crisis, persons rescued at sea are no longer disembarked on land, but rather transferred to ships rented by the government, positioned off Maltas coast. The government has publicly stated that those on the ships should remain there until such time that other member states commit to relocating them.

…The Commissioner reiterated that, any challenges notwithstanding, it remains paramount that no action by Council of Europe member states results, either directly or indirectly, in the return of migrants at sea to places where they face serious human rights violations. In this respect, she highlighted again her position that any cooperation with the Libyan authorities that would result in such returns should be suspended.”

35. Black Lives Matter – whatever their nationality

Migration scholar Bridget Anderson examines how and why politicians can declare that ‘Black Lives Matter’ whilst ignoring how racism and contemporary migration policies intersect.

36. Malta: Renewed call for justice 1,000 days after the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia

A dozen human rights group have signed a statement calling for those involved in the killing of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to be brought to justice, 1,000 days after her assassination and in the wake of “yet more disturbing revelations of state corruption and impunity”.

37. UN: Armed drones: Special Rapporteur examines the dawning of the “second drone age”

The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, has issued a new report examining the expanding use of armed drones.

38.  EU pays for surveillance in Gulf of Tunis (Matthias Monroy);

“A new monitoring system for Tunisian coasts is to prevent irregular migration across the Mediterranean. The German Ministry of the Interior is also active in the country. A similar project in Libya has now been completed.”

39.  No Israeli drones fly for Frontex after crash (Matthias Monroy):

“Several Member States use EU services for unmanned maritime surveillance of different sizes. Operations for Frontex were stopped since January.”

VIRUS NEWS

1. EU: Parliamentary oversight in the health crisis (Robert Schuman Foundation, link to pdf):

Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights opens the possibility for signatory states to derogate from their obligations by invoking exceptional circumstances, but Rik Daems, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has insisted on the need for parliamentary oversight of the measures taken by most States in response to the health crisis.

However, there has been a general trend towards the loss of power by Parliaments to the benefit of the executive branch, even though the variety of configurations is plural. Some governments have taken advantage of the health crisis to strengthen their powers, sometimes beyond all proportionality.”

2.  Brexit: EU accuses UK of trying to maintain economic benefits amid coronavirus recession (DW, link):

“The EU’s top Brexit negotiator has said the UK wants “the best of both worlds” in its future economic relationship with the bloc. The OSCE said the UK may feel the effects of the pandemic recession worse than EU members.”

3UK: Revealed: online covid tests refused to those not on credit check database (Health Service Journal, link):

“Disadvantaged groups may be excluded from the governments online coronavirus test and trace system because it requires a credit reference database check to decide whether to deliver a home test, HSJ can reveal.

The online application process for a postal test overseen as part of the service uses a credit check company TransUnion to verify applicants identity, HSJ has confirmed. It is not a credit check and will not affect peoples credit score.

However, people who do not pass the checks carried out by the firm or dont want them to be carried out are being told they need to apply instead for a drive-through test, which for many will make it difficult or impossible.

4.  Something to declare? Surfacing issues with immunity certificates (Ada Lovelace Institute, link):

As antibody tests are rolled out, governments around the world are considering how a presumption of immunity might enable a more selective approach to managing risk in society. Some form of digital immunity certification or health status app could formally or informally shape how citizens access parts of society, interact with the economy and exercise their rights. As the building of technical capacity for immunity apps, and deliberation about how they might be deployed progresses, this long read surfaces six key issues policymakers must consider up front.

5.  EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Terrorism in Times of Corona: The development of the terrorist threat as a result of the Covid-19 crisis (7838/20, LIMITE, 7 May 2020, pdf):

A changed political focus and the impending economic crisis may also prompt a re-allocation of scarce resources, leading to smaller budgets for counter-terrorism. It would be a serious mistake, however, to neglect counter-terrorism at the expense of other priorities. We must prevent the current health and economic crisis from becoming a security crisis as well.

…This note explores the following questions:

Will the corona crisis exacerbate support for terrorism and violent extremism?

To what extent do terrorists and violent extremists exploit the crisis in their propaganda? How do they fit the crisis in their political narrative?

Do terrorists change their modus operandi as a result of the pandemic? Do they even attempt to ‘weaponise’ the virus?

Do terrorists adapt their choice of targets as a result of the corona crisis?

Does the crisis engender new forms of terrorism and violent extremism?”

6.  Europe: COVID-19 lockdowns expose racial bias and discrimination within police
A new report from Amnesty International looks at how police forces across Europe have enforced lockdown restrictions – and finds that ethnic minorities and other marginalised groups have been disproportionate.

__________________________________________
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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