Human Rights Organisations Oppose Europol Reform
On 21 October 2021, the European Parliament voted in favour of opening negotiations with the Council of the EU on the revision of Europol’s regulation. (→ news dated 10 July 2021). The vote on the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee’s draft report on the proposal for the revision of Europol’s mandate was strongly questioned by human rights organisations. In the run-up to the vote, 25 human rights organisations, coordinated by European Digital Rights (EDRi) and including organisations such as Access Now and Statewatch, had expressed their concerns over the report’s attention to the rights to fair trial, to privacy and data protection, and to non-discrimination.
In an open letter dated 20 October 2021, the organisations called on MEPs to vote against the report. In the letter, they urged the European Parliament to include additional safeguards, e.g., mechanisms to ensure that Europol’s powers are used in a proportionate way, guarantees for defence rights, and robust oversight mechanisms.
Furthermore, the organisations argue that Europol’s potential new powers in the field of research and innovation contradict the core elements of the European Parliament’s own resolution of 6 October 2021 on artificial intelligence in criminal law and its use by the police and judicial authorities in criminal matters. Lastly, based on the claim that Europol’s work largely relies on data transferred by national police authorities that contain racialised stereotypical assumptions, the organisations ask the European Parliament to wait with the expansion of Europol’s mandate until the Commission’s Anti-racism Action Plan 2020-2025 - which aims at improving this situation – has been duly implemented.