Round-up of news stories from across the EU
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Belgian watchdog cites intelligence failures ahead of Paris attacks (France 24, link): "Belgium's police watchdog has identified several "deficiencies and weaknesses" in the way authorities handled information on the Paris attackers before they unleashed carnage on the French capital, Belgian media reported Monday.
Some of the Paris attackers and alleged accomplices came from the troubled Brussels' neighbourhood of Molenbeek, and Belgium has rejected French criticism of alleged failings by its intelligence services before the attacks in which 130 people died.
RTBF cited as one "glaring example" of intelligence failings the fact that "even before the Paris attacks, a nom de guerre used by one of the terrorists featured in several (police) databases in Belgium, but not in the central database"."
EU: New EU directive on the rights of minors on trial (New Europe, link): "Minors who are suspected or accused of a crime will have the right to a fair trial, assistance of a lawyer and be accompanied by parent or guardian through the proceedings. This is based on new rules approved by the European Parliament on March 9.
According to a European Parliament press release, the text presents a catalogue of rights and guarantees as a common European model of fair trials for children under the age of 18. Caterina Chinnici (S&D, IT), who steered the legislation through parliament, said the goal is to strike a balance between the need to ascertain responsibility for crime and the need to take due account of minors vulnerability and specific needs."
NORTHERN IRELAND: Riot fears as loyalists given go-ahead for huge Easter Monday march in Lurgan (Belfast Telegraph, link): "Fears are growing of major disorder after a massive loyalist parade through Lurgan was given the go-ahead, although with a key restriction imposed.
The Belfast Telegraph understands the Parades Commission has approved an application for an Apprentice Boys of Derry march on Easter Monday.
However, it will not be permitted to go through republican areas close to Shankill Parish Church.
Up to 3,600 participants and 61 bands are expected to pass through the town.
The timing of the parade is particularly sensitive as it falls around the weekend when republicans are set to commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising."
Polish Government Preparing to Contest Rights Report (ABC News, link): " Poland will challenge the findings of an international human rights commission which is expected to deliver a scathing assessment of democratic backsliding in the European Union's largest ex-communist member state, the foreign minister said Thursday.
Witold Waszczykowski said the government plans to dispute the findings of the Venice Commission, an arm of the Council of Europe human rights group. The commission is scheduled to deliver its report on Friday in Venice."
SWEDEN: Isolated before trial: Pre-trial detention in Sweden (Fair Trials International, link): "This article, jointly written by Teresa Barrio Traspaderne, our Campaigns and Communications Intern, and Daniel Roos, a Swedish criminal lawyer and a member of Fair Trials Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP), explores the practice of pre-trial detention in Sweden, and why it has been subject to harsh criticism from international human rights bodies."
TURKEY: Erdogan, prince of Europe, took my newspaper Zaman (EUobserver, link): "When European Council president Donald Tusk was in Ankara and tweeting how his meetings with president Erdogan and prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu were fruitful, the news that an Istanbul court had taken the decision to confiscate Zaman was already circulating the newsrooms. The violent takeover happened when commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for accession talks with Turkey, was still in the country.
It is as if Erdogan wanted to teach a lesson to European leaders. The seizure comes just before the second Turkey-EU summit in four months like a slap in the face of European values."
UK: Reducing prison population only way to reduce shameful death rates, urge campaigners (Prison Watch UK, link): "Same mistakes being made across policing and prison system, Inquest director says "
UK: Stop Government plans to snoop on your internet history (38 Degrees, link): "No other Government in the world has these kinds of intrusive powers. And they dont need them. We need to ask why the British police need to access our web history when police forces around the world dont do this.
Some people say if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. But we should all be worried about our sensitive personal information being collected and analysed. Companies like Talk Talk have been hacked before, and the sensitive data that all our ISPs will now be expected to keep about us will be very valuable to cyber-criminals.
The Government have tried to push through new snooping powers before and a public backlash stopped them in their tracks. Now we need to come together again and demand Theresa May removes Internet Connection Records from the Bill."
UK: Theresa May wins right to deport failed asylum seekers to Afghanistan after judges remove court injunction (Bureau of Investigative Journalism, link): "Home Secretary Theresa May today won a significant legal battle to resume deportations of failed asylum seekers to Afghanistan after the Court of Appeal overturned an injunction imposed last year amid concerns the country was too dangerous.
The ruling could now see hundreds of failed asylum seekers, including those who arrived in Britain as unaccompanied children years ago, returned on special charter flights from London."
UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Evidence spycop John Dines worked at heart of Australias intelligence-gathering community (UndercoverInfo, link): "A document (see below) shows that for several years UK spycop John Dines worked at the heart of Australias intelligence-gathering community (including undercover ops). The man who infiltrated protest groups in the UK and who abused a woman over two years by concealing his true identity has also received an award by the Charles Sturt University in Australia for Professional Excellence. Dines hoped to escape the London-based inquiry into undercover policing, but last Sunday was spectacularly outed by Helen Steel, an activist with London Greenpeace and the woman whose life he abused, when she confronted him at Sydney airport as he was waiting to greet a contingent of police officers from India, who he is training as part of the course he runs at the University. The universitys executive dean of the faculty of arts, Professor Tracey Green, stated that Dines works only in an administrative capacity, but another document, referred to below, shows Dines playing a far more active role that merely administrative "
UN: China Blasts U.S. 'Rape and Murder' at U.N. Human Rights Council (New York Times, link): "GENEVA China strongly rejected U.S.-led criticism of its human rights record at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday, saying the United States was hypocritical and guilty of crimes including the rape and murder of civilians.
"The U.S. is notorious for prison abuse at Guantanamo prison, its gun violence is rampant, racism is its deep-rooted malaise," Chinese diplomat Fu Cong told the Council, using unusually blunt language.
"The United States conducts large-scale extra-territorial eavesdropping, uses drones to attack other countries' innocent civilians, its troops on foreign soil commit rape and murder of local people. It conducts kidnapping overseas and uses black prisons.""
USA: Veil of secrecy lifted on Pentagon office planning Avatar fighters and drone swarms (Washington Post, link): "High over Alaska last summer, the Pentagon experimented with new, secret prototypes: Micro-drones that can be launched from the flare dispensers of moving F-16s and F/A-18 fighter jets. Canisters containing the tiny aircraft descended from the jets on parachutes before breaking open, allowing wings on each drone to swing out and catch the wind. Inch-wide propellers on the back provided propulsion as they found one another and created a swarm.
The experiment was run by the secretive Strategic Capabilities Office, a Pentagon organization launched in summer 2012 to figure out how to best counter growing strategic threats from China and Russia. The specifics of what the mini-drones can do are classified, but they could be used to confuse enemy forces and carry out surveillance missions using equipment that costs much less than full-sized unmanned aircraft. Video reviewed by The Washington Post shows the tiny aircraft, which weigh about a pound each, moving in packs and gaining situational awareness after sitting inert in the flare canisters."
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