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News digest: 28 May 2013

Albania parties ignore call for donor transparency (Balkan Insight): "Open Data Albania, a Tirana-based watchdog group, says political parties are failing to make public their lists of campaign donors ahead of the June 23 elections"

Albania rushes laws to boost EU bid (Balkan Insight): "The Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, is recalling parliament to vote on three laws sought by Brussels as a condition for obtaining candidate status"

BALKANS: Amnesty lists rights failings in Balkans in 2012 (Balkan Insight): "The Amnesty International Report for 2012 listed war crimes prosecutions and discrimination against sexual and ethnic minorities as among the most pressing rights issues in the Balkans"

BALKANS: Region focuses on corruption in customs sectors (SETimes.com): "Several countries in the region are intensifying their efforts against corruption in customs agencies, an institution that tops the list of the most fraudulent sectors, according to NGO Transparency International"

BALKANS: Roma union targets inclusion issues (SETimes.com): "Representatives in the parliaments of Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovakia created the Roma Inter-Parliamentary Union in order to resolve the lack of institutional state support for Roma communities in the region"

BALKANS: Western Balkans intensify military, intelligence co-operation (SETimes.com): "Defense ministry and security force officials discussed ways to work together to battle terrorism, organised crime and prevent interethnic conflicts at a recent conference in Skopje"

BELGIUM: 80 arrested in Antwerp Belgium March against Monsanto protest (Revolution News)

Cybersecurity official says state-backed espionage spiralling (EurActiv): "The number of countries bending the rules to allow spies and state authorities to conduct cyberattacks is escalating and constitutes a major security threat which should be addressed by an international convention, the security chief of a leading Chinese telecoms firm told EurActiv"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Rally protesting against President Zeman staged in Prague (Prague Daily Monitor): "Some 200 people are protesting against Czech President Milos Zeman's challenging academic freedoms as he was reluctant to name homosexual literary historian Martin C. Putna as professor, outside the presidential office at Prague Castle yesterday"

CZECH REPUBLIC: World Roma festival kicks off in Prague (Prague Daily Monitor): "Prague, May 27 (CTK) - Concerts of traditional music and jazz, dance, film screening, parties, a giant cake and mainly street events including a costumed march will be attractions of Khamoro, the annual world Roma festival that started in Prague Monday"

DENMARK: Ban on investment in "indiscriminate weapons" proposed (The Copenhagen Post): "New law suggested by the business and growth minister seeks to make it illegal to invest in companies making landmines and cluster bombs"

DENMARK: City Council moves to counter freedom of information act (The Copenhagen Post): "Roskilde, Odense, Gladsaxe, Helsingør and Aarhus councils are all leaning towards passing a similar law that would maintain transparency at the council level"

Estonian data protection authority issues annual report (Privacy and Information Security Law Blog)

EU ends arms embargo on Syria rebels (BBC News): "European Union foreign ministers have said they will not renew an arms embargo on the Syrian opposition, due to expire on Saturday." See also: Britain and France open to supply weapons to Syria as EU arms embargo is lifted (The Independent) and EU arms embargo lift ‘too little, too late,’ says Syrian opposition (Al Arabiya)

EU: Euro-deputies diverge on data protection details (EUobserver): "Euro-deputies are thrashing out the details on European data protection reform, with the latest debates split on provisions on "territorial scope""

EU: The rise of right-wing extremism in Europe (text of speech by Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs)

EU: Troika measures making law ‘yesterday’s business’ (The Law Society Gazzette): "The law has become ‘yesterday’s business’ in swathes of the EU as a combination of austerity and measures pushed through by the International Monetary Fund, European Commission (EC) and European Central Bank drive law firms to the brink of insolvency, the Gazette heard at the CCBE plenary session"

EU: Unrest may spread across Europe, warns Red Cross chief (The Independent): "Rocketing unemployment and poverty in some areas of Europe could lead to rising civil unrest, unless governments take measures to address the humanitarian consequences of austerity measures, the secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned." See also: Europe on the edge of the abyss (Inter Press Service)

France to marry first gay couple on Wednesday (Global Post): "France's first gay grooms, Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau, will marry outside Montpellier's city hall on Wednesday, May 29, 2013." See also: France’s anti-gay marriage movement eyes next battle (France 24)

French government seeks to ban extreme right-wing group (The Independent): "The French government is taking steps to ban an extreme far-right movement believed to be planning violence at demonstration against gay marriage in Paris on Sunday"

German railways to test anti-graffiti drones (BBC News): "Germany's national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, plans to test small drones to try to reduce the amount of graffiti being sprayed on its property." See also: Germany's national rail network to use anti-graffiti dones (The Independent)

GERMANY: Bayreuth immigration office 'unfair' to students (The Local): "A new study has condemned the immigration office in Bayreuth for its treatment of international students, some of whom have been turned off the Bavarian town by their negative experiences"

GERMANY: Right-wing terror expert Funke: 'No appropriate response to NSU failures' (Deutsche Welle): "A German parliamentary committee tasked with evaluating the authorities' failure in the neo-Nazi killing spree has issued its final report. Right-wing terror expert Hajo Funke says right-wing danger had been trivialized"

Greece's Jews take on neo-Nazi party (SETimes.com): "With Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party accused by critics of being behind the increasing assaults on immigrants as it rises in popularity, Jewish community leaders are worried about what they said are the extremists' anti-Semitic positions"

GREECE: Coalition remains split over anti-racism bill (Ekathimerini): "Talks on Monday night between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partners, PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis, failed to resolve an internal rift over a contentious anti-racism bill though the dispute was not expected to threaten the cohesion of the administration." See also: EU Commissioner Malmstrom expects Greek anti-racism bill soon

GREECE: Minister to meet unions over plan to curb street protests in Athens (Ekathimerini): "Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias is due to meet union representatives on Tuesday to discuss plans to limit the impact of small protests." See also: Greece moves to control protests (Greek Reporter)

GREECE: Private security for immigrant detention centres (EnetEnglish): "Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias on Thursday announced that the government is planning to hire a private security company to guard Greece's immigrant detention centres"

HUNGARY: Fidesz sees new left-wing plot to colonize Hungary in Amnesty Int’l report (Politics.hu): "Amnesty International’s 2012 human rights report chapter on Hungary presents a clearly distorted and biased image of Hungary, the ruling Fidesz party said on Thursday." See also: Amnesty International report criticizes Hungary’s treatment of Roma, refugees

HUNGARY: On the streets with Hungary's far-right (Channel 4): "In Hungary an extremist nationalist party linked to paramilitary-style militias is making huge gains. Channel 4 News travelled to Budapest to meet the men behind the Jobbik campaign"

HUNGARY: Top Hungary court rejects appeal to block constitution changes (EUbusiness): "Hungary's constitutional court threw out Tuesday an appeal by the country's parliamentary ombudsman to annul a controversial set of constitutional changes which have drawn ire from the EU"

IRELAND: Donegal man charged with Hyde Park bombing makes no bail application (Irish Independent): "A Donegal man charged with the murders of four soldiers over 30 years ago in one of the most notorious IRA bombings of the Troubles has been remanded in custody"

IRELAND: Female garda charged over forged DPP letter (Irish Independent): "A female garda has appeared in court after being arrested and charged with using a forged letter from the DPP in connection with a criminal investigation." See also: Bray garda to stand trial after claims she forged a letter from the DPP (The Journal)

IRELAND: Gardai should have 'power to use discretion' – Ombudsman (Irish Independent): "Gardai should have the power to use their discretion when dealing with a minor offence, according to the chairman of the Garda Ombudsman Commission, Simon O'Brien"

IRELAND: Watchdog slams Garda co-operation (Irish Independent): "The state investigative body set up to probe allegations of Garda wrongdoing has branded the force's co-operation unacceptable"

Irish ODPC publishes 2012 annual report (Privacy and Information Security Law Blog)

Italy forced to fix prison overcrowding in final ruling (Gazzetta del Sud): "The European Court of Human Rights has rejected Italy's appeal against a sentence condemning Rome for the state of Italian jails, ANSA sources said Monday. In April, Italy formally challenged the Strasbourg-based court when it ordered Rome to correct the "degrading and inhumane conditions" in its prisons and to pay 100,000 euros in damages to seven inmates." See also: Prison guards protest overcrowding in Naples

Italy paid refugees €500 to leave for Germany (The Local): "Some 300 African refugees currently living behind Hamburg's Bismarck monument reportedly received €500 from the Italian government to leave for Germany. Officials are unsure what to do next, as they have no shelter and no money"

KOSOVO: Ex anti-corruption Kosovo chief jailed for corruption (Balkan Insight): "The former head of Kosovo’s anti-corruption task force, Nazmi Mustafi, was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison and fined 10,000 euro for extorting money from people he was investigating and for illegal possession of a firearm"

NETHERLANDS: 40% think Syria fighters should be stripped of their Dutch nationality (Dutch News): "Muslim youngsters who travel to fight with rebels in Syria against president Assad’s regime are seen as heroes by almost 75% of Dutch Muslims, according to a Motivaction poll for television show Altijd Wat"

NETHERLANDS: The Netherlands leads the way in approving refugee requests: IND (Dutch News): "The Netherlands is more likely to give asylum seekers residency papers than the rest of the European Union, according to the head of the Dutch immigration service"

NORTH AFRICA: Mali donor conference focuses on terror threat (Magharebia): "One-hundred eight countries and international bodies gathered in Brussels last week for a conference on rebuilding Mali, pledging 3.2 million euros as financial aid"

NORTHERN IRELAND: Amnesty International's annual report for Northern Ireland and Ireland (Human Rights in Ireland)

POLAND: Thousands march for legalisation of marijuana (The News): "“The day will come when we can legally smoke a joint here and police will give us a light,” liberal MP Janusz Palikot told several thousand people at the Marijuana March in Warsaw"

Serbian officials seek better whistleblower protection (SETimes.com): "Serbia's government intensified efforts to reduce corruption, but experts said citizens are discouraged from reporting corrupt activities because whistleblower laws do not offer proper protection"

SWEDEN: Official gave his mother Swedish residency (The Local): "A Migration Board employee in Malmö is suspected of making sure his mother was allowed to stay in Sweden, in contradiction to migration laws and adding to a scandal that has rocked the agency with several employees under investigation"

SWEDEN: Stockholm 'back to normal' as riots subside (The Local): "A few cars were set alight in the Stockholm suburbs early on Tuesday morning, but police have said the situation in the Swedish capital has returned to normal following a week of disturbances." See also: Fire and fury in Sweden as riots spread (The Independent); Stockholm unrest: Stockholm police ask for reinforcements to quell ongoing riots (The Independent) and Stockholm riots throw spotlight on Swedish inequality (BBC News)

SWITZERLAND: The big bad foreigner in poster art (swissinfo.ch): "First it was Bolsheviks and Jews. Then it was migrant workers from Southern Europe. Now it’s more exotic newcomers such as Muslims. There have been many Swiss political posters bedeviling foreigners, as displayed in an open-air exhibition in Neuchâtel"

SWITZERLAND: Unauthorised rally leaves Bern in shambles (swissinfo.ch): "Authorities in the capital Bern have “severely condemned” attacks against police and damage to property in clashes during an unauthorised and politically-charged techno parade that left around 50 people injured, including 21 members of the security forces." See also: Public asked to help identify rioters

UK: Abdel Hakim Belhaj torture case may be heard in secret court (The Guardian): "One of the first cases to be heard by the government's new generation of secret courts may be a claim brought by a Libyan dissident who was kidnapped along with his pregnant wife and flown to one of Muammar Gaddafi's prisons"

UK: Activists defy police attempts to gather intelligence on resistance to G8 (Stop G8): "Two UK anti-capitalists, returning to the country on Sunday May 19 after attending an anarchist festival in the Netherlands, were intercepted by Kent Police Special Branch officers at Dover, then detained and questioned for three hours under Schedules 7 and 8 of the Terrorism Act 2000." See also: Police use anti-terror powers to detain anarchists on return from conference in Switzerland (Statewatch News Online) and Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000: A police snooping tool to protect private profit (Corporate Watch)

UK: EDL supporters march through central London - video (Channel 4 News): "Supporters of the far-right English Defence League march through central London, closely followed by anti-fascist protesters, after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Wednesday." See also: EDL blames Islam for Woolwich attack at Downing Street protest (The Guardian); Anti-Muslim protests over murdered British soldier (euronews); Far-right EDL supporters clash with police in Woolwich (Channel 4 News) and Ten attacks on mosques since Woolwich murder (The Independent)

UK: G4S asylum-housing fiasco descends into farce (OpenDemocracy): "Things aren't going well in the UK's new asylum housing 'market' that is dominated by the world's biggest security company. Now G4S threatens to evict an asylum-seeker because G4S has failed to pay her rent. Are public services safe in its hands?"

UK: High court orders new approach to Iraq abuse inquiry (The Guardian): "The high court has called for a new approach to an inquiry into allegations that British troops committed "terrifying acts of brutality" following the invasion of Iraq." See also: Iraq abuse claims: 'Inadequate response' by UK government (BBC News)

UK: Law Society calls for 28-day limit on police bail (BBC News): "More than 57,000 people are on police bail in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to figures obtained by the BBC"

UK: ‘Prison, an expensive way to treat people inhumanely’ (The Justice Gap): "‘Politicians need to stop playing KerPlunk with the prison system,’ said former prison governor and inspector John Podmore on Tuesday night, reports Mary-Rachel McCabe. ‘One day someone’s going to pull that final straw out. We need to be careful.’ Podmore was speaking at the third annual Prisoners’ Advice Service / Justice Gap debate, hosted by UCL’s Access to Justice Unit"

UK: Spy on your neighbours, says former MI5 head Stella Rimington (The Telegraph): "People who suspect their neighbours may be extremists should inform the security services because “the enemy is everywhere”, the former head of MI5 has said"

UK: Terror in Woolwich: Internet is the vital frontline in war against extremism (The Independent): "The major battle in the war against extremism is being fought over the internet by elite teams stationed behind keyboards and engaged in winning the hearts and minds of would-be terrorists." See also: Woolwich murder: Government defends security services (BBC News)

UK: Torture victims win test case over detention in UK immigration centres (The Guardian): "The Home Office has been ordered by the high court to pay compensation to four torture survivors who were unlawfully held in British immigration detention centres"

UK: Wardens at Full Sutton prison injured in inmate attack after four-hour stand-off (The Independent): "Two prison officers have been attacked after a four-hour stand-off with inmates at a maximum security prison, the Ministry of Justice confirmed today"

US entertainment industry to Congress: make it legal for us to deploy rootkits, spyware, ransomware and trojans to attack pirates! (Boing Boing)

USA: Dissent or Terror: New report details how counter terrorism apparatus was used to monitor Occupy movement nationwide (PRWatch): "The report, a distillation of thousands of pages of records obtained from counter terrorism/law enforcement agencies, details how state/regional "fusion center" personnel monitored the Occupy Wall Street movement over the course of 2011 and 2012. Personnel engaged in this activity at fusion centers include employees of municipal, county and federal counter terrorism/homeland security entities. Such entities include local police departments, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (including U.S. DHS components such as the Transportation Security Administration)"

USA: Hackers who breached Google in 2010 accessed company's surveillance database (Wired): "Hackers who breached Google’s network in 2010 obtained access to the company’s system for tracking surveillance requests from law enforcement, according to a news report"


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