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News digest: 1 February 2013

ALBANIA: Hefty sentences sought for Albanian protesters' deaths (Balkan Insight): "Prosecutors asked a Tirana court on Wednesday to jail two former Republican Guard officers for a total of 48 years imprisonment for killing protesters in the January 21, 2011 riots"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Labour Ministry will have to change S-Card system (Prague Daily Monitor): "The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry must remove the mistakes in the project of electronic social cards (sCards) by the end of June so that it does not violate the law on the protection of personal data, the Personal Protection Data Office (UOOU) said yesterday"

CZECH REPUBLIC: MfD: Some prisoners wrongly freed under presidential amnesty (Prague Daily Monitor): "Czech judges have by mistake released minimally three prisoners to whom the amnesty that outgoing President Vaclav Klaus announced on New Year's Day does not apply, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes yesterday"

Can Skype eavesdrop on your calls? (Sydney Morning Herald): "Does Skype let police and authorities spy on users' conversations? That's the question a wide group of advocacy organisations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as Reporters Without Borders, and many activists and journalists, are asking in an open letter published online." See: Open Letter to Skype

DENMARK: Asylum for gay Afghan man sets precedent (The Copenhagen Post): "For the first time ever, the refugee appeals board granted asylum to a gay man because of the risk of persecution his sexuality poses if he returns home"

EU to support border management in Libya (New Europe): "The Council of Europe today approved the crisis management concept for a new civilian Common Security and Defence Policy mission to promote capacity building for border management in Libya." See: Council of the European Union: EU prepares support to border management in Libya (press release, pdf)

EU: Balkan states unite to tackle EU asylum concerns (Balkan Insight): "Six Western Balkan states have vowed to cooperate in solving the problem of illegal immigrants to EU countries, following threats to reintroduce visas to the region"

EU: Europe police 'smash people-smuggling ring' (BBC News): "Police have arrested 103 people suspected of being part of a "major people-smuggling criminal network", says EU police agency Europol." See: Major people smuggling criminal network dismantled across Europe - 103 suspects arrested (Europol)

EU: Google Transparency Report for second half of 2012 shows European government attempts to access private data at an all-time high (Privacy International): "Requests by European governments for the browsing history, email communications, documents and IP addresses of Google's users have skyrocketed since the Transparency Report was launched three years ago"

EU: MEPs call for a post-accession monitoring of Croatia (euinside): "A monitoring mechanism to be imposed on Croatia after its accession to the EU to evaluate the track record of conflict of interest, corruption and organised crime, as well as the implementation of the plan for reform of the judiciary, Romanian MEP Monica Luisa Macovei (EPP) proposes"

EU: Net Neutrality: Neelie Kroes Yields to Operator Pressure (La Quadrature du Net): "In an Op-Ed in Libération (in French), Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Internet-related policies, can be found giving in to telecom operator pressure and giving up on Net Neutrality. Ms. Kroes supports the creation of a fragmented Internet, banning innovation and opening the door to unacceptable censorship"

EU: PRESS FREEDOM: Greece drops to 84th place in press freedom index (Ekathimerini) : "Levels of press freedom in Greece have deteriorated substantially over the past year, according to Reporters Without Borders, which ranked the country 84th out of 179 in its 2013 Press Freedom Index published Wednesday." See also: The Netherlands second on press freedom rankings (Dutch News); Serbia tops press freedom list in Balkans; Macedonian media alarmed by falling freedom rating (Balkan Insight); 2013 World Press Freedom Index: Dashed hopes after spring (press release), full report (pdf), and map (jpeg) (Reporters Without Borders)

France set to depot hard-line imams (France 24): "French Interior Minister Manuel Valls has said that a handful of radical imams will be expelled from the country in the coming days as part of ongoing efforts to deport foreign-born preachers who "refer to the need to fight against France""

German report on arms exports reveals little (Deutsche Welle): "Critics says the government's report on arms exports lacks transparency: exporting companies are not named, and government sales are merely summarized. Yet the government claims it's in-depth and detailed"

GERMANY: Anti-Semitism: an everyday phenomenon (Deutsche Welle): "As Germany marks 80 years since the Nazis came to power, German Jews still have to put up with anti-Semitism. Has calling Jews names and telling mean jokes become socially acceptable?"

GERMANY: Chldren of the crisis: German schools struggle with wave of immigrants (Spiegel Online): "Germany is experiencing a well-documented boom in immigrants from countries hard-hit by the euro crisis. Less visible, however, are their children. They rarely have any knowledge of German, and schools are struggling to meet their needs"

GERMANY: No-go zones: Map will detail Germany's neo-Nazi hotspots (Spiegel Online): "A German nonprofit organization is set to launch an interactive map that will show where neo-Nazi activities are concentrated across the country. Designed as a research tool, it also has relevance for the broader public, who may use it in a manner similar to crime map websites"

GREECE: More Greek strikes on Jan. 31 (Greek Reporter): "Despite the breaking of a Metro strike that quelled unrest for a time, the Greek government is bracing for a 24-hour strike of transport and health care workers on Jan. 31 to protest government plans to reform the sectors"

GREECE: Greek protesters storm Athens office of labour minister (BBC News): "Protesters in Greece have stormed the Athens offices of a government minister in the latest demonstration against austerity measures." See also: PAME unionists occupy Labour Minister's office (Ekathimerini)

GREECE: Police clash with protesters over waste processing tenders (Ekathimerini): "Protesters clashed with police outside a department of the Attica Prefecture on Tuesday morning, following the launch of a tender for the management of the disputed Fylis and Ano Liosia landfills in northwestern Athens"

GREECE: State to gain right to seize suspects' money (Ekathimerini): "The government plans to pass a law that will allow it to seize any money generated by corruption or other criminal activity and transfer it to state coffers"

Greek opposition leader seeks conference on debt (The New York Times): "The 38-year-old leftist opposition leader in Greece who could become its next prime minister on a wave of simmering popular fury over the government’s austerity measures, called on Friday for a European summit meeting to ease the crushing debts that threaten not only his country but all of Europe"

HUNGARY: Arrests as homeless occupy vacant building (The Budapest Times): "Police made 28 arrests on Saturday night after protesters ignored repeated warnings to vacate an empty council-owned property on Csányi utca (street) in District VII"

HUNGARY: Call for advertisers to boycott right-wing newspapers (The Budapest Times): "FedEx, Erste Bank, Ikea and Vodafone are among 15 major firms that were asked this week by a coalition of NGOs not to advertise in the right-wing newspaper Magyar Hírlap. The move is a response to an opinion piece published by the paper on 5 January in which columnist Zsolt Bayer described a “significant” part of Hungary’s Roma population as “animals”"

HUNGARY: Lawyer kicked off Roma murders trial (The Budapest Times): "The deputy defence lawyer for one of four men accused of the serial murder of Roma villagers has been taken off the case after it was revealed he is the son of a judge who had dealt with the case at an earlier stage"

Hungarian judicial reform has 'loopholes' (EUobserver): "Hungarian reform proposals designed to revamp controversial judiciary legislation contain loopholes"

IRELAND: Denis Donaldson: fresh inquiry into murder of British spy within Sinn Féin (The Guardian): "A new inquiry has been opened up into the murder of top Sinn Féin administrator and British spy Denis Donaldson. Donaldson was a key aide of Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams even though he was secretly working for the British state inside both the IRA and the party"

IRELAND: Unions plan mass demonstrations over 'last chance' for a debt deal (Irish Independent): "Up to 100,000 demonstrators are expected to hit streets across the country next month in a last-ditch appeal to Europe to ease Ireland's debt burden"

Italy's mixed feelings about Fascism (BBC News): "The ghost of Benito Mussolini, Italy's 20th Century Fascist dictator and Duce, dead and gone now for almost 70 years, is still stalking the country's politics"

Mali crisis: 330 UK military personnel sent to West Africa (BBC News): "The UK is to deploy about 330 military personnel to Mali and West Africa to support French forces, No 10 has said"

Mauritania opens new border posts (Magharebia): "The new Rosso border post will help security... The new post is one of eleven financed by the EU, in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Mauritania's Territorial Security Directorate"

NETHERLANDS: European court ruling means 111 psychiatric prisoners may be released (Dutch News): "Some 111 people currently held in secure psychiatric clinics may have to be released when their four-year detention is up because of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, according to justice ministry research."

NETHERLANDS: Refugee children in the Netherlands move home once a year (Dutch News): "The children of asylum seekers move home on average once for every year they are in the Netherlands, according to a new report by refugee groups"

Northern Ireland peace centre 'will generate £100m a year' (The Guardian): "A new EU-funded peace and reconciliation centre on the site of the former Maze/Long Kesh prison will generate £100m per year for Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness has predicted"

NORTHERN IRELAND: European peace money discussed at Brussels conference (BBC News): "The first minister and deputy first ministers are in Brussels attending a conference on the impact of European Union peace money in Northern Ireland"

Norweigan NGO concerned about child asylum-seeker disappeances (The Foreigner): "Staff at PRESS Save the Children Youth Norway expresses worry over what they see as substandard police work regarding investigating minors who have vanished from asylum reception centres"

ROMANIA: Brussels doubts pace of Romanian judicial reform (Balkan Insight): "Romanian leader Victor Ponta has downplayed the concerns about judicial independence voiced in a European Commission report, saying most of its points have been addressed." See also: EU still unhappy with Romania's rule of law (EUobserver)

Serbian inquiry to probe NATO bombing of TV (Balkan Insight): "A new commission set up to probe killings of journalists in the 1990s wants to re-examine NATO's deadly air strike on Serbia's public broadcaster during the Kosovo war"

SWEDEN: Swedish court convicts man for Hitler salute (The Local): "A man who performed a Nazi salute in a park in southern Sweden has been convicted of racial agitation by a Malmö court, the first time in three years a local resident has been convicted of a hate crime"

SWEDEN: 'Swedish foreign ministry not transparent enough' (The Local): "Sweden's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been criticized for not respecting freedom of information laws in a new overview by the parliamentary committee on constitutional affairs"

UK: A breach of human rights: Court of Appeal rules CRB check law must go (The Independent): "A major overhaul of the criminal records regime could be required after three judges ruled that the current system breached human rights. The Court of Appeal today said that a blanket requirement for some job seekers to supply details of all convictions - even minor offences that were spent and went back decades - was unlawful and amounted to a breach of the right to a private and family life." See also: Judges rule CRB checks 'incompatible' with Human Rights Act (BBC News) and Judgement (pdf)

UK moots blocking health access for EU migrants (EUobserver): "EU migrants could be prevented from using Britain's National Health Service (NHS) under government measures to dissuade Romanian and Bulgarian citizens moving to the UK"

UK: Blacklist used by construction firms to disrupt environmental protests (The Guardian): "Industry found to have files on more than 200 activists, provided by security services or police – prompting calls for official inquiry"

UK: Britain to work with Algeria on counter-terrorism, says David Cameron (The Guardian): "Britain will offer to work alongside Algerian forces on counter-terrorism as part of a joint security partnership announced by David Cameron in Algiers on Wednesday evening." See also: Britain forges new Algeria alliance to fight terrorism (The Independent)

UK: Glasgow Commonwealth Games organisers propose to ban asylum seekers from volunteering (Migrants' Rights Network): "The organisers of the Commonwealth Games, which will take place next in Glasgow, have provoked controversy by announcing that asylum seekers will not be eligible to act as volunteers when the event is underway in 2014"

UK: Ken Clarke: Government 'opting back in' to 30 EU justice laws (The Telegraph): "Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Clarke, the Minister without Portfolio, announced that ministers will “opt back into” 30 EU measures that will impact the UK’s justice system"

UK: Judgment reserved in John Catt protester records case (BBC News): "Judgment has been reserved in the case of a Brighton man who wants records of his political activities removed from a police "extremism" database." See also: John Catt takes protester records case to Court of Appeal (BBC News)

UK: Lord Judge 'troubled' by court camera plan (Law Society Gazette): "The lord chief justice has voiced opposition to the government’s plan to allow the filming of sentencing in the Crown court"


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