Round-up of news stories from across the EU
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ECHR: Romania: Convicts tooth torment spurs human rights complaint (Human Rights Europe, link): "A Romanian convict says he lost most of his teeth because prison authorities failed to respond adequately to his severe dental problems.
Adrian Dragan, currently detained in Giurgiu Prison, brought the complaint again Romania in protest at his jail conditions. The European Court of Human Rights will deliver its judgement on the case tomorrow (2 February)."
EU: The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union: a tool to enhance and protect the rule of law? (FREE Group, link): "Fifteen years after the proclamation in Nice of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and six years after its transformation in a text of EU primary law, it could be now the right time to evaluate its impact assessment on the European legal order (covering both the EU institutions and the Member States when acting under the EU Treaties) in order to asses where critical tensions emerge or where still are unfulfilled opportunities."
IRELAND: Fine Gael blocked abortion debate at ard fheis (Irish Independent, link): "Fine Gael blocked members from engaging in any debate on abortion at the party's final ard fheis before the General Election, the Sunday Independent can reveal."
NORTHERN IRELAND: Stakeknife: David Ford says UK government should pay for investigation (BBC News, link): "A police investigation into the Army's alleged top agent in the IRA must be funded centrally by the government, Stormont's justice minister has said.
Up to 50 murders during the Troubles in Northern Ireland have been linked to the Army agent, codenamed Stakeknife.
In 2003, the media named Stakeknife as west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci, but he denies being a British agent.
Justice Minister David Ford has told Irish broadcaster RTÉ the inquiry must be funded centrally, not by Stormont."
NORWAY: Government cracks down on suspected terror travellers (The Foreigner, link): " Authorities may be granted powers allowing them to deny passports more easily.
The proposal, which has been sent to hearing, applies in cases where there is reason to believe that a person is planning to become a foreign fighter, says Anders Anundsen, Minister of Justice for the Progress Party (FrP).
If passed, it would mean that passports could either be refused or recalled.
The legislation could be invoked if there were suspicions that the journey out of Norway was due to: participation in acts of terror and/or terror-related acts, or illegal participation in military operations abroad."
POLAND: Polish senate approves Internet surveillance law (Yahoo! News, link): "Poland's senate on Friday approved a controversial amendment making it easier for the secret service and police to access Internet data, stoking concerns about the state of democracy in the EU member.
The new measure will notably give the police direct permanent access to a whole host of metadata regarding the online activity of Poles. The police will no longer have to ask Internet service providers for access each time."
Trusting Big Data Research (SSRN, link): "Although it might puzzle or even infuriate data scientists, suspicion about big data is understandable. The concept doesnt seem promising to most people. It seems scary. This is partly because big data research is shrouded in mystery. People are unsure about organizations motives and methods. What do companies think they know about us? Are they keeping their insights safe from hackers? Are they selling their insights to unscrupulous parties? Most importantly, do organizations use our personal information against us? Big data research will only overcome its suspicious reputation when people can trust it."
UK: Deepcut inquest will not consider 'culture of sexual abuse' claims (The Guardian, link): "An inquest into the death from a gunshot wound of a young female soldier at Deepcut 20 years ago will not consider whether there was a culture of sexual abuse at the army barracks, a coroner has ruled.
Opening a fresh inquest into the death of Pte Cheryl James, 18, discovered with a single gunshot wound to her head at the Surrey barracks in 1995, coroner Brian Barker QC said: This is not a public inquiry into the culture at Deepcut in the mid-1990s."
UK: MPs send Tony Blair list of questions over IRA and Gaddafi (The Guardian, link): "Tony Blair has been challenged by a Commons select committee to explain why he allegedly failed to ask for compensation from Muammar Gaddafi for the victims of Libyan-supplied IRA weapons."
UK: Parting shot: Prison inspector steps down with last blast at Grayling (politics.co.uk, link): " The prison system is declining in safety and conditions with more threats on the horizon, the outgoing prisons inspector has warned.
Nick Hardwick, who is stepping down later this year, issued a parting shot to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and, in particular, former justice secretary Chris Grayling in a series of media interviews over the weekend.
Speaking to the influential blog Prison UK, Hardwick pinned the blame for overcrowded and deteriorating prisons directly on the MoJ.
"My time as chief inspector has coincided with a deterioration in safety and conditions in prison," he said."
UK: Prisons inspector Nick Hardwick: You shouldnt do this job for long because you get used to things you shouldnt (The Guardian, link): "The outgoing chief inspector of prisons is explaining why he is so keen to get out of the job. Its not the budget fights Nick Hardwick had with the Ministry of Justice, nor the fact that he wasnt actively encouraged to apply for another five-year stint. Its not even the fact that the previous secretary of state for justice, Lord Grayling, robustly tried to influence him as Hardwick revealed to a select committee last week.
No, he simply feared that he was becoming desensitised; that he was getting prison-horror fatigue. You shouldnt do this job for too long because you get used to things you shouldnt get used to, he says. Ill give you an example of something that is objectively shocking, but how do you keep the outrage going? Take the level of self-harm and suicide. On one level, one bit of your brain is thinking, Oh well, theyve only had two suicides since we were last here, good. On another level, that is appalling."
UK: Stripped of UK citizenship by Theresa May in 2012, former Briton Mahdi Hashi now jailed by New York judge for al Shabaab terror charges (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, link): "Former British citizen Mahdi Hashi was yesterday sentenced to nine years in prison at a New York court for supporting the terrorist organisation al Shabaab, three years after being secretly taken to the US from a Djibouti jail.
Hashi, 26, who was stripped of his British citizenship in 2012 by Theresa May, has spent the past three years in solitary confinement in a New York prison. He had pleaded guilty in May last year to conspiring to provide material support to al Shabaab in Somalia several years earlier."
UK-EU: UK referendum: Prime Minister Cameron visits European Parliament (European Parliament, link): "Welcoming UK Prime Minister David Cameron to Brussels today 29 January, President Martin Schulz noted that, as co-legislator, the European Parliament will have a key role to play in the success of any initiatives for EU reforms resulting from negotiations. Their meeting revolved around UK demands for changes to its relationship with Europe ahead of a referendum on the country's membership of the EU. The British vote will also be on the agenda of the upcoming EU summit on 18-19 February."
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