Amendment of SIS II Regulation: Europol to coordinate proposals for alerts from third countries

The EU police agency is to receive lists of persons from foreign authorities and then have them alerted in the Schengen area for refusal of entry, arrest or observation. This legalises a questionable procedure that has long been practised.

Can the US FBI put a Tunisian national on a European database for refusal of entry, even if there is no proof that he belongs to a terrorist organisation as claimed? Should it be permissible for Europol to initiate such alerts even at the behest of an intelligence service from Serbia or Egypt, so that the person concerned is arrested when crossing the border into the Schengen area?

It is certain that the Schengen Information System (SIS II) will soon be supplemented by such a regulation. However, it was disputed between the EU Parliament and the Member States in the Council what role Europol should play in mediating such searches for third-country nationals. Tomorrow, the so-called trilogue negotiations are to be concluded with a consensus between Council and Parliament; after their formal decision in the competent bodies, the regulation would then be valid as of summer. „Amendment of SIS II Regulation: Europol to coordinate proposals for alerts from third countries“ weiterlesen

Access through Europol and databases: EU decides against control of Interpol

Authoritarian states use the international police organisation for the political persecution of opposition members. The EU Council or the Commission could coordinate the review of these misused alerts. However, the Parliament has agreed to a horse-trading deal.

Next year in May, the European Commission plans to launch the new Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). All visa-free travellers to the EU will then have to deposit personal data via an internet form before crossing the border. As things stand at present, this affects around 1.4 billion people from over 60 countries.

As part of the check, the personal data will be compared with other police databases. If there is a „hit“, the incident is processed manually and forwarded to the national ETIAS offices in the member states for checking. The border agency Frontex, which operates the ETIAS central office with around 250 officers, is responsible for this. „Access through Europol and databases: EU decides against control of Interpol“ weiterlesen

German activists receive asylum in Venezuela

After Interpol already withdrew an arrest request, two leftists now finally escape persecution by the German justice system

The Venezuelan refugee commission has granted the two German-born Peter Krauth and Thomas Walter a claim for protection from political persecution. They are thus entitled to an unlimited right to stay in Venezuela, reports the solidarity website for the suspects in the so-called K.O.M.I.T.E.E. investigation.

Krauth, Walter and Bernhard Heidbreder, who recently died of a tumour, have been wanted by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) for membership in a terrorist organisation since 1995. They are alleged to have carried out an arson attack on a Bundeswehr building in Bad Freienwalde in the same year. In 1996, the group had also tried to blow up a deportation prison under construction in Berlin-Grünau. A police patrol was alerted to the fact that the construction site had been cordoned off for this purpose. The perpetrators fled, the building remained unharmed. In a vehicle left at the crime scene, the BKA found evidence that it attributed to the three wanted men. „German activists receive asylum in Venezuela“ weiterlesen

New Europol regulation: EU member states want to blindside parliament with renewed time stamps

For years, the EU police agency has been storing dumps of data on crime victims and witnesses. New legislation will legalise this practice. An exception should now apply to information Europol collected before it comes into force.

According to a proposal by the EU Commission for a new Europol regulation, the EU police authority is to be given even more far-reaching powers for its data collections. An Article 18a is envisaged, according to which Europol may keep personal data on victims and witnesses of crimes for a longer period of time. Under the current regulation, this is not allowed.

Three weeks ago, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Wojciech Wiewiórowski therefore ordered Europol to delete data records on this category that are more than a year old. Accordingly, further storage is only possible for data on criminals. The governments of the EU member states now want to use a trick to circumvent this order. The new regulation is supposed to allow the questionable storage practice for victims and witnesses retroactively. „New Europol regulation: EU member states want to blindside parliament with renewed time stamps“ weiterlesen

Travel authorisations: Carriers must query new EU database

A new information system is supposed to screen travellers for risks at the EU’s external borders. Of interest is, among other things, whether there is an irregular migration history or an „epidemic risk“. The agencies Europol and Frontex will receive new tasks for this.

After some delay, the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will go live at the end of next year. All visa free travellers entering the Schengen area for a short stay will have to register online via a form a few days before crossing the border. The information is checked automatically, after which the system issues either clearance or a contestable refusal of entry. The procedure costs 7 euros, a travel authorisation is valid for three years.

Carriers who operate journeys across an external EU border face new obligations and costs with the ETIAS Regulation. This concerns providers of air, sea, train or bus travel. Before boarding, they must check whether their passengers have a valid travel authorisation. For this, the companies will be given permission to check the passengers‘ papers in ETIAS when they make a booking. Yesterday, the European Union asked companies to register for this process. The first tests of the system are to begin in February 2022. „Travel authorisations: Carriers must query new EU database“ weiterlesen

Action plan on Afghanistan: Europol to hire evacuated staff from Kabul

A high-ranking EU advisor has drawn up recommendations for the Council and the Commission on how to deal with evacuees and refugees from Afghanistan. The focus is on more cooperation with secret services and NATO.

The European Union’s anti-terrorism coordinator proposes 22 measures for dealing with Afghan refugees. An action plan, published by the British organisation Statewatch, addresses the four areas of security controls, strategic intelligence, countering propaganda as well as terrorist financing.

The recommendations by the Belgian Gilles de Kerchove are based on a declaration by the EU interior ministers on 31 August. There, flight and migration from Afghanistan are seen primarily as a security problem. „Action plan on Afghanistan: Europol to hire evacuated staff from Kabul“ weiterlesen

„Battlefield information“: EU police to cooperate more closely with secret services and military

Authorities in the European Union use biometric data and crime scene evidence from Iraq and Syria to process war crimes, secretly track suspects and control migration. Now the procedure is to be extended to African countries.

After a meeting of EU interior and defence ministers in 2017, authorities in member states have been using so-called „battlefield information“ to fight terrorism. In this way, the authorities want to identify and detect „foreign fighters“ when they cross an external EU border. The procedure is to be expanded, the EU anti-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove is therefore calling on governments to engage in a „regular dialogue with their military forces and relevant intelligence and security services“. This is according to two documents posted online by the British civil liberties organisation Statewatch.

„Battlefield information“ comes from countries such as Syria or Iraq, where the „Global Coalition against Daesh“ has been operating militarily since 2014. The intelligence is usually collected there by military secret services. Their dissemination and use goes back to „Operation Gallant Phoenix“, an initiative of the US government. It has a secretariat in Jordan and involves military and intelligence services from 27 Western and Arab states as well as their police authorities. „„Battlefield information“: EU police to cooperate more closely with secret services and military“ weiterlesen

Prüm Framework: EU Presidency wants a European Weapons Register

In a decentralised system, the police forces of the EU member states network DNA files, fingerprints, vehicle data and soon also facial images. The automated retrieval of data in criminal investigations is now to be extended to firearms. However, a feasibility study had rejected this idea.

The Portuguese EU Presidency proposes to include firearms and their owners in the framework of the so-called Prüm Decisions. This is stated in a document published by Statewatch, according to which the 27 governments are now to start a discussion process. According to the proposal, the weapons registers of the member states are to be interlinked. The member states decided in 2008 to set up these national systems in the EU Weapons Directive.

The Prüm Decisions refer to a treaty that all EU member states also signed in 2008. So far, the networking relates to DNA files, fingerprints and data on motor vehicles and their owners. It is a decentralised system, but connected via a central server. „Prüm Framework: EU Presidency wants a European Weapons Register“ weiterlesen

Facial recognition at German police authorities increased by more than a third

Millions of faces, fingerprints and palm prints are stored in German police databases. Law enforcement agencies are also processing more and more biometric data at the EU level.

The comparison of photographs by German police authorities has again increased sharply in the past year. This is shown by statistics based on information provided by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in a parliamentary interpellation. According to this, a total of 76,535 queries were made in the facial recognition system of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in 2020. The year before, there were still around 54,000 queries, so the increase is more than a third (2018: 41,000, 2017: 27,000). According to the statistics, most of the searches come from the criminal investigation offices, which is also where the greatest increase was recorded.

Since 2009, the BKA has made it possible for the state criminal investigation offices and the Federal Police to identify unknown persons with the help of the central police information system (INPOL-Z). In the database, the BKA stores photographs mainly from the identification service. The „Z“ stands for „central file“, which is kept by the BKA but filled by all police authorities. „Facial recognition at German police authorities increased by more than a third“ weiterlesen

European police networking in the twilight

The Police Working Group on Terrorism (PWGT) consists of the political departments of police authorities in all Schengen states. The informal group was established in 1979 as a response to left-wing armed movements. After their disappearance, the purpose of the PWGT was expanded to include „political violent activities“.

Together with police authorities from the Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) started the European „Informal Terrorism Working Group“ in 1979. The founding date was 25 and 26 April, prompted by attacks by armed left-wing groups in various European countries. One month earlier, the British ambassador Richard Sykes was killed in The Hague. The Irish IRA claimed responsibility, initially, however, the police also considered the involvement of Palestinian groups or the German RAF possible.

Before Margaret Thatcher was elected British Prime Minister in May 1979, the Irish National Liberation Army killed her future Northern Ireland Minister with a car bomb. In Germany at that time, IRA commandos carried out attacks on British soldiers, in Belgium the RAF tried to blow up the NATO supreme commander in Europe. This was reason enough for the BKA’s „Terrorism“ department, like the left-wing movements, to do better in international networking. „European police networking in the twilight“ weiterlesen