European Commission
EuroCOP echoes ICPRA’s high-level call for international effort to gather war crimes evidence in Ukraine
On 21st March 2022, the International Council of Police Representative Associations, of which EuroCOP is a member, submitted a rallying call for police forces across the world to work together to document evidence of ongoing war crimes being committed in the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War. General Secretary of EuroCOP Calum Steele then sent a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron (given France currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU) echoing this call for a coordinated effort. The Scottish Police Federation had submitted a similar letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 17th March. In view of the complexity and volume of evidence required for war crimes investigations in the past, and indeed the prevalence of evidence already being disseminated through the internet, EuroCOP has emphasized that “it is the duty of every police force to assist that investigation and ensure all relevant evidence is secured to aid a prosecution,” whilst endorsing the move of International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Karim Khan’s decision to open an investigation. (link)

At NATO, G7 and European Council summits, leaders display unity but avoid provoking Moscow
On 24 March world leaders came together in Brussels for a bumper-packed agenda of three high-level summits (EU, NATO and G7). NATO leaders agreed to bolster their collective chemical and nuclear “defense elements” to protect its member countries, with NATO having already deployed parts of its NATO Response Force, stationing 40,000 troops on its eastern flank. NATO agreed to establish four new multinational battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Additionally, G7 leaders agreed to block financial transactions going to and from the Russian Central Bank’s international gold reserves, and to accelerate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Meanwhile, the European Council summit (for which the conclusions can be accessed here) was also attended by US President Joe Biden, and focussed on strengthening transatlantic cooperation and intensifying the isolation of the Kremlin through economic and strategic means, but stopped well short of considering direct military action. In particular, that summit focussed upon a new transatlantic energy pact between the EU and USA, to reduce EU reliance upon Russian natural gas. The USA is now expected to increase LNG exports to the EU by 15 billion cubic meters in 2022 as part of the new agreement. (link)

Country News:

·       Belgium: A report recently published by Amnesty International on Belgium’s human rights record revealed that the country has issues of overcrowding and inhuman conditions in prison and with allegations of racial profiling by the police. (link)

·       Bulgaria: On 17 March, former Bulgaria PM Borisov was arrested during a large-scale operation by the European Prosecutor’s Office and the Bulgarian police for allegations of misuse of EU money in the fields of agriculture, construction and public procurement. (link)

·       France: with the help of Europol, French Customs arrested 11 people suspected of being part of an Armenian organized crime group involved in the large-scale import and distribution of counterfeit cigarettes. (link)

·       Germany: Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office registered at least 500 reports of politically motivated attacks on the Russian and Ukrainian communities since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (link)

·       Italy: The Italian financial police force seized a €530-million superyacht belonging to Russian oligarch Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko as a result of sanctions imposed on Russia. (link)

·       Latvia: The Latvian state police together with the Lithuanian Police, with the help of Europol and Eurojust, have detained over 100 people on suspicion of being involved in an international call center scam. (link)

·       Netherlands: As part of an investigation into the widespread trade in private data, the Dutch police cybercrime investigators seized for the first time cryptocurrency and NFTs. (link)

·       Spain: Spanish Police have been accused of brutality after a video circulated of police officers beating and pepper-spraying a young sub-Saharan African boy in Melilla. (link)

·       UK: London’s Metropolitan Police announced that 20 initial fines will be issued for the so-called ‘Partygate’ scandal. (link)

Other news
Europol sends specialised teams to all frontline partner countries in view of Ukraine situation
On 1 April, Europol announced it had deployed operational teams to all frontline European countries bordering Ukraine – including Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova, with an additional deployment planned to Hungary. The teams, comprised of specialized Europol officers and guest officers, will support national authorities in carrying out secondary security checks and investigations at the EU external borders. This will include identifying criminals, terrorists and traffickers trying to enter the EU through the refugee and migrant pathway and exploit the humanitarian situation that has arisen from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Europol stated this response “complements Europol’s active engagement with Ukrainian law enforcement through the Ukrainian liaison officer present at Europol’s headquarters in the Netherlands. (link)

EU Police and Justice Mission to double its police presence in Kosovo
The EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (known as Eulex Kosovo or simply EULEX) is the largest civilian mission launched to date under the Common Security and Defence Policy of the EU. Launched in 2008, the underlying aim was to bolster Kosovo’s path to rule of law effectiveness, accountability and fairness, as well as ensuring the country’s full compliance with international human rights standards. Now, it has been announced that EULEX will deploy an additional 92 special police officers to provide support to NATO troops and local police forces in the country, adding to the 105 officers already located there from Poland. The new unit of 92 officers are staffed from the European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR) and come from Portugal, France and Italy. (link)

Look Ahead :

–      3 April: Commission Vice-President Schinas delegation visit in Algeciras, Spain: Schinas to meet with the command of the Guardia Civil and visit the operation centre.

–      4 April, 19:30-21:00: European Parliament LIBE Committee and Committee on Development to discuss the activation of the temporary protection directive and helping those fleeing the war in Ukraine, especially children. (link to webstream and link to press release).

–      8 April: The Council of the EU Working Party on Cooperation in Criminal Matters meets (agenda not yet public.)

–      19 April-6 May: CEPOL is hosting a online course entitled “Trafficking in human beings – Investigation of the digital business model of human traffickers.” Target audience includes Trafficking in Human Beings (THB) investigators as well as other relevant law enforcement officers including prosecutors and staff from EU Agencies. More information can be accessed here.

 

 

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