European Commission
Commission refers Poland to the European Court of Justice
The Commission has referred Poland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the EU’s top court, for enacting a 2020 law which, according to the Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, “undermines the independence of Polish judges” and is “incompatible with the primacy of EU law.” The judicial law, which entered into force in Poland in February 2020, prevents Polish judges from referring legal cases to the ECJ and installed a national body to arbitrate judicial independence without any involvement of EU law in the process. It had also set up a “disciplinary chamber” to oversee the Polish Supreme Court judges, with powers to lift their immunity from prosecution and dock their pay, or even suspend them from office. In addition to the ECJ referral, the Commission is also asking for the ECJ to impose interim measures to suspend the law until the ECJ makes its final judgement. (link)

Commission President urges Parliament and the Council to back Digital Green Certificates proposal
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen published a tweet urging the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to adopt the Commission proposal for Digital Green Certificates. The Digital Green Certificate legislative proposal sets up a common framework for EU travellers to demonstrate they have either been vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19, or have received a negative test result. The aim is for the Digital Green Certificate to enable safe free movement in the EU this summer, and to be valid in all 27 Member States. The European Parliament has approved an urgency process to fast-track its consent procedure and is looking to adopt its mandate for starting negotiations with Member States in the next plenary session which is taking place from 26-29 April. The Portuguese Presidency has also said it will do everything to have the health certificates in place by June. (link)

·        Denmark: At a virtual member meeting of the Danish Police Association, 83% of participants urged for more anonymity rights for police officers when involved in criminal proceedings, including as witnesses in trials. The consensus was that more protections against harassment and persecution of Danish police are urgently needed. (link)

·        France: French police are to intensify checks on travellers in key transport hubs, especially train stations and airports, in light of increasing COVID-19 cases and fatalities nationwide. (link)

·        Hungary and Norway: In a joint operation between Hungarian and Norwegian police forces and Europol, over 9 million counterfeit sedative tablets have been seized from an underground laboratory. At least 250 kilograms of counterfeit Clonazepam tablets were found. They were being sold across Europe, especially in Norway. (link)

·        Norway and Sweden: Norwegian and Swedish police forces have launched a drone programme with a total value of 160 million Norwegian krones, and plans to train at least 100 drone pilots in the Norwegian police in the next 18 months. The drones will be used for crime scene documentation and police surveillance missions. (link)

·        Poland: Under a new Polish government proposal, dogs and horses serving with the country’s police, fire service and border force are to receive state support in the form of “pensions.” (link)

·        Slovenia: Slovenian police officers are set to team up with police officers from neighbouring countries to try to curb illegal migration along the Slovenian-Croatian border, after a proposal to use the Slovenian army to police the border was blocked in parliament. (link)

Other news
Vulnerable adult victims of hate crime or gender violence in the EU are often unable to file complaints
The Portuguese Justice Minister, Francisca van Dunem told journalists at a high-level conference on “The protection of adults in Europe – The way forward” that “fear” is the main barrier when vulnerable adults have been exposed to hate crimes or gender violence. The main problem in ensuring justice for these victims is that they “have the perception that the formal instances are not available or do not have the capacity to receive their complaints” van Dunem warned. The conference had been organised jointly by the Portuguese Ministry of Justice, the European Commission and the European Agency for Fundamental Rights under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU. (link)

61 organisations urge EU lawmakers to reject EU proposal to curb terrorist content online
In an open letter, 61 organisations urged the European Parliament and Council of the EU to reject the proposed EU regulation on preventing the dissemination of online terrorist content. The organisations, including Amnesty International, Quadrature du Net, the Human Rights League of France and Reporters Without Borders emphasised in the letter that the proposal “poses serious threats to fundamental rights and freedoms, in particular freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of access to information, the right to privacy and the rule of law.” The open letter also warns that the proposal’s Article 4, which obliges online platforms to remove or block access to terrorist content within one hour of receiving the removal order, will in fact lead to the deployment of automated content moderation tools – which the organisations argue will lead to a mass removal of legal content, such as that of a journalistic nature. They say this could create “a kind of algorithm-led censorship.” (link)

Look Ahead

–        5-9 April: National Security Authorities Conference meets (under the Presidency of the Council of Ministers) to allow Member States to exchange information and discuss topics related to classified data.

–        7 April: Working Party on Cooperation in Criminal Matters (COPEN) meets to discuss developments as regards the Second Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

–        7 April: EU agency for law enforcement training (CEPOL) holds a webinar on protection of victims of terrorism.

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