Despite repeatedly documented human rights abuses, the EU is funding new technology to monitor its external border with Turkey.
No European state is as suspected as Greece of violating human rights and international law in its control of the EU’s external borders. Greek border troops use force to drag refugees back into the strait with Turkey without granting them the right to apply for asylum. At sea, as well as on the border river Evros, people in emergency situations are left to fend for themselves or even pushed into the water.
Now the Greek authorities are researching new methods to detect border crossings from the air. This will involve the use of drones that will take over tasks for border surveillance and law enforcement with the help of „real-time artificial intelligence“. The project is called REACTION and researches technologies for land border surveillance. Details of the project were presented by the Greek Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, at a trade fair in Thessaloniki earlier this month. „Artificial intelligence for border surveillance: Greece tests autonomous drone swarms“ weiterlesen
So far, only EU states and Europol are allowed to access databases at Interpol, but soon Frontex and the new public prosecutor’s office will be allowed to do so as well. The EU Parliament has drawn red lines for the negotiations.
As an intergovernmental organisation, Interpol aims to facilitate international police cooperation in the field of terrorism and serious crime. With 195 member countries, it is the largest organisation of its kind in the world, run by the General Secretariat in Lyon, France. However, it is an informal, i.e. private association, because Interpol is not linked to any other international organisation.
Interpol already cooperates with law enforcement agencies of the European Union at various levels and in various projects, including „integrated border management“ in addition to the organisation’s actual areas of responsibility. This cooperation is now to be carried out under a new agreement. The EU Commission already presented a proposal for this in the spring of last year. However, the negotiations are at a standstill. „Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed“ weiterlesen
Once again, a domestic secret service has used a photo without asking the rights holders for permission. In the Freiburg case, this also discredits journalism. The interference of the agency in the formation of political will is also critical.
The popular Radio Dreyeckland was successful with a warning against the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Without asking for the necessary permission, the domestic secret service had used a picture to illustrate an article and must therefore pay €1,500. This was confirmed to netzpolitik.org by the Berlin lawyer David Werdermann, who represents the Freiburg-based radio station.
The warning was about a picture by freelance journalist Julian Rzepa that Radio Dreyeckland had previously published on its website. It shows a demonstration on the occasion of a house eviction on 11 December 2021 in Freiburg city centre. At www.rdl.de it was clearly marked „all rights reserved“. „Copyright infringement: Radio Dreyeckland issues a warning to secret service“ weiterlesen
With the „TB2“, Turkey is becoming a worldwide drone power, now Ukraine is supposed to help in doubling the production.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj awarded the CEO of the Turkish defence company Baykar Makina the „Order of Merit First Class“ on Friday. The award went to Haluk Bayraktar, the brother of Turkish businessman Selçuk Bayraktar.
The company of the two has been producing the eponymous combat drone „TB2“ since 2014, which is being ordered by more and more states worldwide. Ukraine also received its first delivery last year, and the systems were subsequently used against the Russian invasion. There, they ensured successes at the beginning of the war, including, for example, the recapture of the Russian-occupied Snake Island. „Cooperation with Turkey: Selenskyj awards medal for combat drones“ weiterlesen
For the first time, a German „Master of a Drone System“ reports heavy stress disorders and depression just from watching from the air. With the upcoming introduction of armed drones, the phenomenon is likely to get worse.
After about a decade of „drone debate“, the German Bundestag decided in April to arm drones for the Bundeswehr. Beforehand, the Ministry of Defence had invited a few critical voices to hearings, in addition to many supporters. Among other things, they warned of the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for pilots, but especially for the personnel operating the sensor technology. This was also reported by former members of US drone squadrons – but outside the official events of the German Ministry of Defence, which deliberately refrained from inviting them.
The 45 year old André Hassan Khan is the first German Armed Forces drone operator to speak out about his PTSD, which he says has taken a severe course. Since its introduction twelve years ago, he has operated the optical and radar-based cameras of the Israeli Heron 1 reconnaissance drone with the air force in Afghanistan and later in Mali. Khan is a „Tactical Operator Master of a Drone System“. That is the name of the training course at Tactical Air Force Squadron 51 „Immelmann“ in Schleswig-Holstein, which operates the Bundeswehr drones. „German Air Force in Afghanistan and Mali: Drone operator talks on his severe trauma“ weiterlesen
The Croatian police are known for their brutality and human rights violations at the country’s external borders, yet the German governments continues to train them. Number plate scanners, thermal imaging cameras and vehicles could be used for pushbacks in violation of international law.
Croatia has been an official member of the European Union since 2013. Until then, the Western Balkan state has received the usual financial „pre-accession aid“ to get fit for joining the Schengen area. However, the country is still denied full application of the Schengen acquis because of concerns raised by France and the Netherlands about the lack of rule of law. Therefore, internal border controls with neighbouring EU states Slovenia and Hungary continue.
However, one reason for the blockade of full Schengen application by individual EU members could also be Croatia’s function as a bulwark on the so-called „Balkan route“. Many refugees cross the country to reach wealthier EU states and apply for asylum there. Maintaining internal border controls with its northern neighbours could make this unwanted migration more difficult. „Equipment and training: Germany supports police build-up in Croatia“ weiterlesen
Most of the action is being taken by Europol and Frontex, which together have deployed around 280 staff to the region. Eurojust collects evidence against war crimes. The agency for the operation of large databases, on the other hand, plays a minor role.
At the end of March, the European Council called on its member states to better coordinate the reception of refugees from Ukraine. In addition to this ten-point plan and initial emergency financial aid of €668 million, the government in Kiev is being supported by individual member states in the security sector with military aid against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The EU is providing €2.5 billion for this purpose. On 25 July 2022, the European Investment Bank approved an additional €1.6 billion aid package for reconstruction.
Less well known is the support provided by EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) agencies, some of which are also carrying out extensive operations in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. As a „network of JHA agencies“, they published a joint statement with a „commitment to assist“ just two weeks after the war began. Some of them participate in the „Working Group on Integrated Political Crisis Response“, through which the EU aims to react on security incidents. A recently published overview describes the different activities. „Terrorism, crime, migration: Nine EU agencies active because of Ukraine war“ weiterlesen
An emergency at sea in May this year shows how Maltese authorities lets unseaworthy boats pass unrescued so that refugees are taken on board much later by neighbouring Italy or drown. Frontex’s acting Fundamental Rights Officer has clearer words for this than his predecessor.
Since 2017, the Warsaw-based European Union border agency is monitoring the migration route in the central Mediterranean Sea with specially leased planes. Meanwhile, the service is supported by two large drones from Malta and Crete. The deployment of the aircraft opens a backdoor for refoulement in violation of international law: Frontex takes over the aerial surveillance for the Tripoli coast guard, so that they take the discovered refugees back to Libya. This even happens regularly when boats are in Malta’s sea rescue zone.
Jonas Grimheden, the Fundamental Rights Officer at Frontex, has strong words for this practice. This is what it says in a „Serious Incident Report“ that the agency had to release in response to my Freedom of Information request. According to this, Frontex employees lack criteria for classifying when a boat must be rescued immediately by units in the vicinity. The border agency is therefore to start a „dialogue“ on definitions of vessels in distress with Malta, which is also criticised in the report for its inaction. „Human rights violations in Malta: Frontex Fundamental Rights Officer criticises own air surveillance“ weiterlesen
The EU wants to store fingerprints and facial images of over 400 million people from third countries in a single silo. US authorities already have such a system for around 275 million people. Both sides now want to cooperate more closely on this matter.
The European Union is currently merging all databases containing biometric data into a new system. Under the heading of „Interoperability“, this involves the Schengen Information System, the visa database, the fingerprint system for asylum seekers and a file on foreign convicts in terrorism proceedings.
In this way, a new super-database is being created, which will be supplemented next year by an Entry/Exit System (EES). After refugees and those requiring visas, all other travellers from third countries will then also have to hand over their biometric data when crossing the border into the EU. The entire new system could then contain fingerprints and facial images of over 400 million people from third countries, writes Sopra Steria, one of the contractors for the interoperability project. „New super-databases: EU agencies get experience from the USA“ weiterlesen
Egyptians in exile are currently protesting for the release of blogger and democracy activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah. A Berlin based solidarity group has also criticised Germany, which is an important trading partner of the regime in Cairo and wants to import „green energy“.
The Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abd el-Fattah is considered one of the faces of the 2011 revolution, but the government keeps imprisoning him. He has been on hunger strike since 2 April, eating only 100 calories a day. Alaa also has British citizenship, so his supporters are protesting in front of British consulates and embassies. The new solidarity group OccupyCOP27 from Berlin responds about this. „Criticism also of COP 27: Egyptian blogger still on hunger strike“ weiterlesen