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Round-up of news stories from across the EU
25.1.16
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EU: Hungary foreign minister makes comments at lecture in Bulgaria capital (Focus Information Agency, link): "Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjarto, spoke Thursday at a lecture delivered at the Central Military Club in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, FOCUS News Agency reported."

EU: Internet and public safety (European Commission, link): "During the Internet Governance week at the end of January 2016, key stakeholders from all over Europe and beyond will gather in Brussels for an intense round of events, meetings and debates.

On Thursday 28 January, the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs will host a meeting of the recently created Public Safety Working Group of the Governmental Advisory Committee of ICANN. This whole-day meeting will bring together law enforcement and public safety organisations as well as private sector representatives to advance cooperation on the ICANN's policies that have an impact on public safety."

French police foiled another Paris terror attack, says minister (The Guardian, link): "Islamic terrorists planned to attack another concert in Paris and carry out a mass killing in the city streets, the French interior minister has said as he defended the government’s decision to continue the state of emergency imposed after the November attacks."

ITALY: Moroccan 'foreign fighter' nabbed in Calabria (ANSAmed, link): "talian police on Monday arrested a Moroccan 'foreign fighter' near the Calabrian town of Cosenza.

Hamil Mehdi, a 25-year-old street vendor, denied being a member of ISIS and said he had recently visited Turkey "only to pray".

Cosenza police chief Luigi Liguori said anti-terrorism DIGOS law enforcement agents had been trailing Mehdi since last July, after Turkish authorities blocked him at the Istanbul airport and sent him back to Italy."

Poland: Audit finds secret police unit monitoring journalists (index, link): "A recent audit by the bureau of internal affairs (BSW) has uncovered two informal press surveillance units of the Polish police that were set up to monitor journalists in connection with the “tape scandal” for one year between 2014-15."

UK: FOI should apply to prisons and parking tickets, even if contractors hold the information, says Campaign (Campaign for Freedom of Information, link): "Information about prison attacks, penalty fares on London Overground, whistleblowing policies in the NHS and parking tickets has all been withheld under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act because this information was held by public authority contractors and not by the authorities themselves."

UK: Forthcoming reforms to human rights law must not weaken protection (Council of Europe, link): "“The repeatedly delayed launch of the consultation process for repeal of the Human Rights Act has created much speculation and an atmosphere of anxiety and concern in civil society and in some parts of the devolved administrations. There is a real fear of regression in terms of rights’ protection in the United Kingdom” said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, at the end of his six day visit to the country, which focused on the government’s forthcoming plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and create a revised Bill of Rights, as well as the implementation of the few remaining judgments from the European Court of Human Rights."

UK: Heathrow climate protesters found guilty of aggravated trespass (The Guardian, link): "Thirteen protesters who chained themselves to railings at the UK’s largest airport have been told it is almost inevitable they will be jailed for their actions.

Members of the Plane Stupid campaign group cut a hole in a fence and made their way on to the north runway at Heathrow in July last year. They were found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering a security-restricted area of an aerodrome."

UK: Jail kingpins 'test' new legal highs on vulnerable prisoners known as ''spice pigs'' (Mirror, link): " Jail drug lords are testing new legal highs on vulnerable inmates they mockingly call “spice pigs”.

A report reveals dealers give a substance to lags who are weak or in their debt to see how strong or dangerous it is before distributing it – and some desperate addicts are happy to test them as freebies."

UK: Training course: Facing a hostile environment: the impact of the Immigration Act 2014 and the Immigration Bill 2015-2016 - 2 Mar 16 (PM) (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, link): "This course will offer an overview and update of the changes brought by the Immigration Act 2014 and planned by the Immigration Bill 2015-2016, and an opportunity for discussion amongst practitioners and third sector workers offering advice to migrants."

UN: Mind the gap: A review of the right to privacy at the UN in 2015 (Privacy International, link): "In 2015 the United Nations' human rights mechanisms significantly increased their capacity to monitor and assess states' compliance with their obligations around the right to privacy. Notably, the Human Rights Council established the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, filling a significant gap in the international human rights protection system. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Committee put surveillance laws and practices in a range of countries under close scrutiny, making key recommendations to remedy violations of the right to privacy, particularly in the context of communications surveillance.

These positive developments are in sharp contrast to the legislative expansion of surveillance powers that are contrary to human rights standards. At the same time that the UN has increased its attention on the right to privacy, some governments have been adopting laws which, in many cases, seek to legalise post facto the privacy invasive practices of their security services. A spate of new laws that expand digital surveillance powers and reduce safeguards below the standards of international human rights law have been adopted, or are in advanced stages of drafting, in countries such as Australia, China, Denmark, France, Kenya, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, to name only a few."

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