February 2010

Garry Mann case highlights need for EU justice reforms

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg will rule today on whether they will use exceptional powers and prevent Garry Mann's extradition to Portugal under the European Arrest Warrant.

Commenting ahead of the decision Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford who is leading a campaign to improve rights for defendants under the warrant said:

"Garry Mann's case illustrates how essential and urgent it is that the EU takes measures to raise standards in criminal proceedings and strengthen defendants' rights in parallel with the European Arrest Warrant. It is a disgrace that the UK has been one of the governments which have blocked such action in the last decade."

MEPs set to reject banking access agreement SWIFT

The European Parliament's justice & civil liberties committee is expected this afternoon to reject the interim agreement concluded by EU states with the US to allow US authorities access to mass information on financial transactions of Europeans and routed through Europe.

This is the so-called 'SWIFT' agreement named after the name of the company which manages the flow and otherwise called the 'TFTP' agreement after the name of the US Treasury's Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme. It has been provisionally applied but needs MEP consent to stay in force.

Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford MEP said:

Letter to the Independent: Cameron evasive, dismissive and dishonest on gay rights

Johann Hari found David Cameron by turns "impressive mediocre and worrying" on gay rights (Let's talk about sex 4th February). When it came to the record of his ECR European Conservative group of MEPs Cameron was also evasive dismissive and dishonest.

The Tory Leader believes - wrongly - that all Polish political parties are equally homophobic. If that were the case it would be preferable for Mr Cameron not to form a group with anyone from Poland! But it is not so and in fact he has chosen to ally with one particular party which - along with some other parties in this ECR group - holds particularly unpleasant views about gay people.

London MEP at Gitmo inmate Shaker Aamer Downing Street protest

Sarah Ludford at Shaker Aamer protest outside Downing Street.

Sarah Ludford at Shaker Aamer protest outside Downing Street.

A protest outside Downing Street is being organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign this Saturday (6th February 12pm-2pm) to demonstrate against the continued incarceration of Londoner Shaker Aamer in Guantanamo.

Sarah's bulletin: Friday 5 February 2010

Dear Friends

Protest tomorrow about last Londoner in Guantanamo

Tomorrow I will be attending and speaking at a protest in Whitehall opposite Downing Street to demonstrate against the fact that Shaker Aamer the last Londoner left in Guantanamo has still not been returned to the UK where his British wife and 4 children live in Battersea. The demo is being organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign and will run from 12noon to 2pm.

EU governments headless chickens" over bank account access SWIFT agreement"

EU governments in the Council of Ministers have been unable to reach a common view in response to MEPs' concerns about an interim agreement allowing American counter-terrorism authorities access to European bank transaction data managed by the SWIFT company. The US gets monthly bulk transfers and uses this data in its 'Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme'.

The European Parliament is scheduled to vote on Thursday on whether to reject the interim agreement. Without substantive assurances on a timetable for negotiation for a long-term agreement and on stricter safeguards MEPs are likely to confirm the committee-level rejection of last week.

Letter to environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik about Nitrogen Dioxide air pollution in London

9 February 2010

Dear Commissioner Potočnik

Subject: Breach of NO2 hourly limit values in London

First please allow us to congratulate you on your confirmation today as Commissioner for environment. We are writing to you on your first day in office to request that you keep the implementation of European air quality standards in London at the very top of your agenda.

NO2 limit values which came into force just over a month ago on 1 January 2010 as stipulated by directive 2008/50/EC and earlier legislation state that NO2 cannot exceed 200 µg per cubic metre more than 18 times in a calendar year.

MEPs demand action to close Guantanamo and EU help to settle detainees

The European Parliament is today debating progress in closing Guantanamo and resettling detainees and EU-US cooperation in doing so on the basis of ALDE group questions to the Council and the Commission.

Sarah Ludford (LibDem UK) ALDE member of the justice & civil liberties committee and human rights sub-committee is a long-term campaigner against Guantanamo torture rendition and other 'war on terror' abuses. She was the EP rapporteur on Guantanamo from 2003 and was instigator and vice-chair of the European Parliament temporary committee on 'extraordinary rendition' which reported 3 years ago. She said:

Torture case ruling means government must come clean on 'Bush poodle' years

Commenting in advance of a European Parliament debate on intelligence services on today's Court of Appeal judgement ordering the British government to publish CIA-supplied information on the torture of UK resident Binyam Mohammed Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford said:

"After years of denial and rubbishing of critics it is now confirmed beyond any doubt that UK secret services did indeed collude with torture; this vindicates the 2007 European Parliament report. If Londoner Shaker Aamer was allowed home from Guantanamo we may hear testimony that M15 also practised torture."

Sarah speaks to the European Parliament about the closure of Guantanamo

Sarah Ludford on behalf of the ALDE Group. - Madam President some European governments actively participated in illegal rendition torture and illegal detention. Others gave background support. Others pretended not to see. So it was not something that just happened 'over there'. That is one of the reasons we have kept our continuing interests.