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by Stephen Castle
Thursday, Aug. 23, 2001 at 8:22 AM
EU forms tracking group for protestors... to use networks set up to track organized crime.
21 August 2001 08:46 GMT+1
Home > News > World > Europe
EU's secret network to spy on anti-capitalist protesters
By Stephen Castle in Brussels
20 August 2001
Leading article: Police co-operation must not trample on
European leaders have ordered police and intelligence
co-ordinate their efforts to identify and track the
demonstrators whose violent protests at recent
culminated in the shooting dead by police of a young
protester at the Genoa
G8 meeting last month.
The new measures clear the way for protesters travelling
Union countries to be subjected to an unprecedented
degree of surveillance.
Confidential details of decisions taken by Europe's
interior ministers at
talks last month show that the authorities will use a
web of police and
judicial links to keep tabs on the activities and
whereabouts of protesters.
Europol, the EU police intelligence-sharing agency based
in The Hague that
was set up to trap organised criminals and drug
traffickers, is likely to be
given a key role.
The plan has alarmed civil rights campaigners, who argue
information on people who have done no more than take
part in a legal
demonstration may be entered into a database and
Calls for a new Europe-wide police force to tackle the
threat from hardline
anti-capitalists were led after the Genoa summit by
Minister, Otto Schily. Germany has long pushed for the
creation of a
Europe-wide crime-fighting agency modelled on the FBI.
Germany's EU partners rejected Mr Schily's call, judging
that a new force to
combat political protest movements was too
controversial, but ministers
agreed to extend the measures that can be taken under
Central to the new push is the secretive Article 36
known as the K4 committee) and the Schengen Information
System, both of
which allow for extensive contact and data sharing
between police forces.
Under the new arrangements, European governments and
police chiefs will:
* Set up permanent contact points in every EU country to
and exchange information on protesters;
* Create a pool of liaison officers before each summit
staffed by police
from countries from which "risk groups" originate;
* Use "police or intelligence officers" to identify
"persons or groups
likely to pose a threat to public order and security";
* Set up a task force of police chiefs to organise
"targeted training" on
The new measures will rely on two main ways of
information. The Schengen Information System, which
information, and a supporting network called Sirene
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