January 4, 2021
MacManus challenges EU project on inclusion of Israeli police as partner

MacManus challenges EU project on inclusion of Israeli police as partner

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has written to the coordinator of an EU project which has collaborated with the Israeli police force involved in developing new speech and facial recognitions technologies. 

MacManus believes the Israeli police may use these tools to increase surveillance on Palestine’s civilian population. MacManus commented:

“It was brought to my attention that one of the project partners of the EU ROXANNE project is the Israeli Ministry of Public Security. This will be of concern to many European citizens, as the Ministry is responsible for the Israeli police, an organisation linked to crimes such as torture, extrajudicial killings and the torture of children.

“My understanding is that the nature of the EU project concerns combining new speech technologies, face recognition and network analysis to facilitate the identification of criminals. Specifically, ROXANNE will develop a platform that will increase agencies’ capabilities via voice recognition, language and video technologies.”

“My concern is the Israeli Ministry of Public Security will utilise its participation in the project to further develop its own capabilities in this area. An increase in the Israeli police’s capacity is likely to result in further surveillance of the civilian Palestinian population, in a search for opponents to Israel’s occupation. Eventually leading to increased detentions and a high likelihood of torture.”

The Midlands Northwest MEP said accountability was necessary. “This project received 7 million euros of EU funds; I believe it should therefore be accountable to EU taxpayers. In order to save the credibility of the project, I requested the Israeli Ministry of Public Security be removed as a partner. Respect for moral values must underpin all financial support from EU citizens.”

“The project coordinator did respond to my letter, saying my concerns have now been brought to the attention of the European Commission. The coordinator believes the Commission is responsible for authorising any proposed partner, therefore they also hold the responsibility for any ethical breaches.”

“I do not buy this argument; both the project coordinators and Commission have allowed this to happen.”

MacManus concluded: “I will await the Commission’s response before deciding what further action to take. In the meantime, as I have already requested, the Garda Síochána should withdraw from the project in protest at the Israeli polices’ continued inclusion.” ENDS

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