|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.32, 6.9.01, p7|
THE EU'S proposals for clamping down on violent political protests are illegal and will criminalise peaceful demonstrators, according to a leading civil liberties group.
Statewatch argues that measures designed to prevent the violence seen at the Göteborg and Genoa summits would result in an unlawful extension of police powers.
The UK-based campaign group believes they could give security forces carte blanche to spy on all political groups and not just those involved in violent protests. "A green light has been given to the law enforcement agencies to put groups concerned with global issues under surveillance on the grounds that they are all potential troublemakers," said Statewatch chief Tony Bunyan. The measures were hastily agreed by justice ministers in July, after the scenes of destruction which blighted the Göteborg summit in Sweden. "They were rushed through in secret meetings in just two weeks without any reference to national or European parliaments," said Bunyan.
In particular, Statewatch argues that ministers have given excessive powers to an unregulated and secretive group, the newly set up 'Task Force of Chief Police Officers'. The new rules authorise the surveillance of emails, faxes and post, the taking of photos or video footage of members of suspect groups, the recruitment of informers and infiltration by undercover police officers or internal security service agents, acccording to Bunyan. "The governments should spend their time and resources resolving the underlying issues which are bringing the people onto the streets instead of targeting a new 'enemy within' which smacks of Cold War politics," he said.
He has told the United Nations that November's world food summit, set to be held in Rome, must be moved to a smaller Italian town instead.
A NATO ministerial meeting originally scheduled for 26-27 September in Naples is also to be moved.
Meanwhile Belgian police are on high-alert following warnings of violence at the two-day informal meeting of trade ministers starting today (6 September) in Bruges.
The EU's proposals for clamping down on violent political protests are illegal and will criminalise peaceful demonstrators, according to a leading civil liberties group, Statewatch.
|Subject Categories||Justice and Home Affairs|