Reaction to Council decisions on exchange of personal data with third countries

On 25 April 2018, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament (LIBE) will hold a joint debate on recommendations for Council Decisions authorising the opening of negotiations for agreements between the European Union and Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Algeria on the exchange of personal data between the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and the competent authorities for fighting serious crime and terrorism.

EuroMed Rights is deeply concerned that no human rights considerations are made in the decisions to ensure the protection of citizens’ private life and data and the protection of people at risk or being persecuted for their peaceful acts and expression of opinion, and that none of the recommendations set forth by the European Data Protection Supervisor on these draft Decisions have been taken into account despite the very significant human rights impact these decisions may have. EuroMed Rights would like to recall that none of the third countries targeted by this decision have a legislation that protects the rights of personal data subjects, in addition to long-lasting concerns as regards violations of human rights.

EuroMed Rights is also deeply concerned that irregular migration is treated as a serious crime in the Decisions and on the same level as terrorism. This inappropriate mismatch has had a number of detrimental impacts on the rights of migrants and refugees, and is widely used by a number of policy leaders to justify for the criminalisation of foreign communities and their defenders. In this context, EuroMed Rights warns against the gradual establishment of databases meant to address internal security concerns and against their potential detrimental effect on the human rights of data subjects, including the right to leave any country.

To be long-lasting, stability and security can only be pursued in full respect of international human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as well as EU’s own commitments to promote and protect human rights in its relations with third countries. EuroMed Rights calls on Members of the LIBE committee to uphold those values in its discussion of the Council Decision