European Parliament vote on Europol Cooperation with third countries: Compromising on Human Rights will not bring greater safety

Algeria, Egypt, Israel / OPT, Jordan, Lebanon, Migration and Asylum, Morocco / Western Sahara, Press Release, Tunisia, Turkey

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Press Release

Brussels, 4 July 2018

Despite strong warnings by the European Data Protection Supervisor, the European Parliament, at its plenary session in Strasbourg, has voted today on the controversial proposal on personal data exchange between Europol and eight third countries – Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Tunisia and Israel. EuroMed Rights expresses its concerns over the harmful consequences on human rights that such bilateral agreements will bring.

The European Parliament should have opposed the opening of negotiations as long as no independent human rights impact assessment had been conducted, made public and discussed on each country targeted, instead of simply asking for vigilance.

In view of this concerning context, EuroMed Rights asks for the European Parliament’s input to be taken into account, and especially for two conditions to be respected in the negotiation process:

– the identification of effective fundamental rights safeguards in each party to the negotiation  ensuring that the transferring and processing of personal data will not infringe on human rights including freedom of expression, and freedom of association and assembly;

– an official request by the European Commission of an impact assessment over the consequences that such agreements could have on human rights. Such impact assessment should also include the assessment of existing police cooperation at bilateral level between some EU member states and South Mediterranean partners to demonstrate the need for reinforced cooperation.

In fact, it is obvious that the rights of data subjects are not safeguarded whether in law or in practice in any of the countries targeted. The use of a terrorism-based narrative to crackdown on human rights defenders and civil society, in addition to the criminalisation of irregular migration, are common practices in most of these countries. But even more controversial is to include in the negotiations four countries – Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon – that do not have any legislation concerning the protection of personal data.