Hungary referred to EU Court of Justice over asylum legislation
July 26, 2019
The European Commission referred Hungary to the EU Court of Justice on Thursday due to continued legislation that criminalizes asylum application support and restricts asylum requests.
The referral follows a 2018 formal notice concerning the same legislation. The law was introduced by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has gained traction using an anti-immigration platform. Per the legislation, anyone who assists a person without legal status can be penalized with a jail sentence. Consequently, this law prevents asylum seekers from communicating with national, international and non-governmental organization representatives, and the Commission has argued that this law violates EU regulations governing asylum applicants.
The Commission has also criticized Hungary’s unlawful limitation to the right of asylum. Currently, refugees who enter Hungary via countries that do not persecute asylum seekers are unable to qualify for asylum. This law essentially uses Hungary’s neighboring countries as buffer states to reduce legitimate asylum requests.
Because Hungary has not properly addressed many of the concerns brought forward by the Commission—and due to the fact that Hungary has continued to enforce laws that appear contrary to EU law—the Court of Justice will now evaluate Hungary’s legislation to determine whether it is compatible with EU Asylum Procedures and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.
The European Commission has also begun to add new complaints related to the withholding of refugee support, including the lack of food provision to asylum seekers traveling in transit zones.
EU policy experts recommending limiting AI surveillance
June 28, 019
The European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on AI (AI HLEG) on Wednesday released a second reportabout artificial intelligence (AI) development and deployment, specifically aimed at “maximising  benefits whilst minimising and preventing  risks.”
The report includes 33 recommendations for the EU, focusing on four domains: AI helping in general society, in the private sector, in the public sector, and in academia.
Using the recently-termed concept of “Trustworthy AI,” the EU is aiming for goals that include a single European market. This type of goal, though, requires complementary legislation among its Member States to enable “lawful, ethical, and robust AI-enabled goals and services.”
In addition to lofty recommendations, the report also describes specific protections for humans and our society. Despite potential government interest in a “secure society” that relies heavily on AI, the report urges caution regarding the “mass surveillance of individuals.” Individual privacy and freedoms should be maintained.
As technology continues to improve, the report also recommends the introduction of a “mandatory self-identification” system, which would require deployers of AI systems to “disclose that in reality the system is non-human.”
Transparency will continue to be a concern as AI becomes more entrenched in the daily activities of the modern world. The AI HLEG, though, is confident that early implementation of ethical guidelines will help prevent abuses
Poland criticized for recent judicial reforms
June 30, 2019
In a country visit report published Friday, Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, said the Polish government needs to do more to preserve judicial independence, citing “wide-ranging judicial reforms [which] have met with serious concern” from stakeholders.
The Commissioner’s report is the culmination of a five day visit in which “the Commissioner held discussions on the independence of the judiciary and the prosecution service as well as issues pertaining to the rights of women, gender equality and domestic violence.”
Mijatović noted that Poland’s wide-ranging judicial reform has had a major impact on the country’s justice system. Since taking office in 2015 Poland’s Eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party has enacted judicial reforms that many have said are “endangering the rule of law, democracy and human rights.” The reforms have impacted the effectiveness of the Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal, the country’s judicial body established to adjudicate disputes on the constitutionality of the activities of state institutions.
The commissioner expressed serious concerns with the independence of the judiciary and the prosecutorial service under the current system and ongoing reforms. Specifically noting the “publicly-financed campaign to discredit judges as well as negative statements made by high-ranking officials, the Commissioner recalled that members of the executive and the legislature have a duty to avoid criticism that would undermine the independence of or public confidence in the judiciary and urged the Polish authorities to exercise responsibility and to lead by example in their public discourse.”
The Commissioner urged the Polish authorities to take steps to resolve deadlock between the Constitutional Tribunal and the Executive Branch, “by recognising the legitimacy of the election of the three judges by the previous Sejm and by re-establishing dialogue and cooperation between the Constitutional Tribunal and other constitutional bodies.” (The Sejm is the lower-house of the Polish Parliament, responsible for choosing the 15 judges that make up the Constitutional Tribunal.)
Additionally, Mijatović noted serious concerns regarding the lowering of the retirement age for Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court, in which several judges were forcibly removed. A sentiment echoing the ruling of an EU Court on Monday, which held the lowering of the retirement age as contrary to EU law and principle.
The report also raised concerns for the lack of action toward addressing “a key judgment against Poland on access to abortion and the related care.” Mijatović noted “repeated attempts to further restrict Poland’s already very restrictive legislation governing access to abortion, including a bill currently pending in the Polish Parliament” which “seeks to roll back women’s access to their sexual and reproductive rights.”
The report indicates satisfaction with Poland’s average gender pay gap, which is among the lowest in the EU, but invites officials to “take measures to prevent and combat sexism and its manifestations in the public and private spheres.”
According to the report, violence against women and domestic violence is another area in which Poland is encouraged to act. The main concern is regarding the “abrupt and/or unexplained interruption of access to central government funding which affected several well-established and reputable women’s rights organisations, in recent years.” Mijatović “invites authorities to take steps to increase public awareness about domestic violence and to do more to identify and promote champions of women’s rights and gender equality. She also encourages all politicians and opinion-makers to give vocal support to the advancement of women’s rights, gender equality, and the fight against domestic violence.”
The European Court of Justice rules Germany Autobahn toll is unconstitutional
June 20, 2019
The German law would charge a fee to both German citizens and foreign nationals. However, under the law German citizens would qualify for a rebate while foreign nationals would not.
Every owner of a vehicle registered in Germany will have to pay the charge, in the form of an annual vignette, of no more than €130. For vehicles registered abroad, payment of the charge will be required (of the owner or the driver) for use of the German motorways. In that regard, a 10 day vignette is available costing between €2.50 and € 25, a 2 month period costing between €7 and €50 and annual vignettes are available, at no more than a maximum of €130.
In parallel, Germany has provided that, from the revenue from the infrastructure use charge, the owners of vehicles registered in Germany will qualify for relief from the motor vehicle tax to an amount that is at least equivalent to the amount of the charge that they will have had to pay.
The ECJ ruled that such a policy indirectly discriminated against non-German citizens. Therefore, the effect of the law would fall solely on Autobahn users from other states. Further, the law would restrict the free movement of goods and the freedom to provide services.
In today’s judgment, the Court finds that the infrastructure use charge, in combination with the relief from motor vehicle tax enjoyed by the owners of vehicles registered in Germany, constitutes indirect discrimination on grounds of nationality and is in breach of the principles of the free movement of goods and of the freedom to provide services.
Austria, who originally brought the case, was supported by Netherlands while Germany was supported by Denmark.
Afghanistan war crimes victims appeal to ICC
June 13, 2019
Victims of war crimes in Afghanistan filed an appeal Monday with the International Criminal Court (ICC) challenging the lower court’s recent decision not to pursue a war crimes investigation in Afghanistan.
The Appeal was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and the Global Justice Clinic at the New York University School of Law, among others, on behalf of the victims. The victims claim that significant war crimes have taken place in Afghanistan that and not investigating further will deny the victims justice while allowing the perpetrators to escape. The victims further claim that the perpetrators will be free to continue committing war crimes and that the mandate of the ICC will be severely damaged if justice is not served.
The victims specifically highlighted that top officials in the US government have failed to comply with the court’s requests and, as such, have interfered with the effectiveness of the investigation and the ICC as a whole. It is not specifically alleged who exactly war crimes, but it is likely related to several alleged war criminals for whom President Donald Trump was reportedly considering pardons. The Trump administration has refused to cooperate with any ICC investigation of the War on Terror and has threatened consequences if the ICC does pursue an investigation
El Tribunal europeo retira a Correos la competencia exclusiva de vender medios de franqueo
Fuente: El Economista
02 de mayo de 2019
El Tribunal de Justicia de la Unión Europea (TJUE) ha retirado a Correos la competencia exclusiva para vender medios de franqueo distintos de sellos. En una sentencia dictada hoy, el Tribunal europeo rechaza la normativa española que garantiza al operador postal un derecho exclusivo a la distribución de medios de franqueo distintos de los sellos de correos. “Los Estados miembros no pueden otorgar o mantener en vigor derechos especiales o exclusivos para el establecimiento y la prestación de servicios postales”, apunta la sentencia.
El asunto parte de una denuncia de Correos que acusaba a Asendia Spain de comercializar unos medios de franqueo o etiquetas prepago que imitan y se confunden con los sellos utilizados por Correos y que los comercializaba fuera de su red postal interna. Por su parte, Asendia aseguraba que no está cometiendo ninguna infracción a la Ley de la competencia desleal, ya que no imita ningún sello de Correos, no induce a confusión a los usuarios y no utiliza la red postal existente de Correos.
Los medios de franqueo controvertidos se venden al público en hoteles, tiendas de recuerdos y supermercados, especialmente en aquellos situados en lugares turísticos. Estos medios se ofrecen a los clientes de dichos establecimientos esencialmente para el envío de tarjetas postales, que los clientes pueden depositar directamente en los buzones situados en esos mismos establecimientos.
“El legislador europeo considera, en efecto, que el objetivo básico de garantizar la prestación sostenible de un servicio universal puede quedar garantizado sin necesidad de que existiera un sector reservado y que, por consiguiente, procede poner fin a la utilización de un sector reservado y de derechos especiales como medio para garantizar la financiación del servicio universal”, explica el fallo. “Incluso cuando siga siendo necesario recurrir a la financiación externa del coste neto residual del servicio universal, la normativa europea no menciona la atribución de derechos exclusivos o especiales al operador designado entre las opciones expresamente autorizadas para financiar el servicio universal”, añade.
Esa conclusión, el TJUE considera que no queda en entredicho por el hecho de que otra disposición de la Directiva establezca que los Estados miembros tienen derecho a organizar con arreglo a su Derecho interno, entre otras materias, la emisión de sellos de correos. “Es patente que la emisión de medios de franqueo distintos de los sellos de correos, como los que distribuye Asendia Spain, no está comprendida en el ámbito de aplicación de esa disposición, que únicamente se refiere a la instalación de buzones en la vía pública, a la emisión de sellos de correos y al servicio de correo certificado utilizado en el marco de procedimientos judiciales o administrativos”, apunta. “Además, esa excepción debe ser interpretada estrictamente”, apostilla.
Por otra parte, el Tribunal europeo entiende que “la designación de la entidad o entidades que tienen derecho a emitir los sellos postales indicando el país de origen siga correspondiendo a los Estados miembros obedece tan sólo a razones de orden público y de seguridad pública, y no a razones relacionadas con la financiación del servicio universal”.
Philippines withdraws from ICC
March 18, 2019
The Philippines officially withdrew from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Sunday, becoming the second country to withdraw after Burundi, which left in 2017.
President Rodrigo Duterte announced the country was withdrawing from the court a year ago, but court rules require that withdrawal cannot take effect for at least 12 months. While the Philippines no longer recognize the Rome Statute, the withdrawal has no impact on on-going proceedings or any matter already under consideration by the court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective.
The court has been conducting a preliminary examination into accusations that Duterte and other Philippine officials committed mass murder and crimes against humanity in a war on drugs.
Specifically, it has been alleged that since 1 July 2016, thousands of persons have been killed for reasons related to their alleged involvement in illegal drug use or dealing. While some of such killings have reportedly occurred in the context of clashes between or within gangs, it is alleged that many of the reported incidents involved extra-judicial killings in the course of police anti-drug operations.
The court noted that the participation of states in the Rome Statute and their continued support for the ICC is essential to global efforts to ensure accountability and strengthen the international rule of law.
The Republic of the Philippines ratified the Rome Statute on August 30, 2011, and the statute entered into force from November 1, 2011.