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News digest: 26 September 2012

BULGARIA: Corruption in Bulgaria up to triple the EU average: study (EUbusiness): "Corruption in Bulgaria is two to three times higher than the average in the 27-member European Union, with some 150,000 bribes paid out on a monthly basis, a new report found Monday"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Romani children misplaced in special schools (Prague Daily Monitor): "A number of Czech Romany children are still enrolled at practical schools that are for lightly mentally retarded children, government human rights commissioner Monika Simunkova said yesterday"

DENMARK: Police accused of harassing foreign homeless (Copenhagen Post): "In just two months, homeless advocacy group Projekt Udenfor has registered 15 cases in which foreign homeless people have been harassed by the Copenhagen Police." See also: No home to go to for foreign homeless

EU-BULGARIA: Interfering with electricity meters is a matter of EU law - although not in the way you think (UK Human Rights Blog): "For the first time the European Court of Justice (CJEU) has been asked to address the issue of indirect discrimination based on ethnic origin and the possible justifications for such discrimination. The question, put before it as a reference on a preliminary issue from the Bulgarian Commission for Protection against Discrimination (the “KZD”), is this: 'Is it discriminatory if, in districts which are inhabited predominantly by a people belonging to a certain ethnic minority, electricity meters are suspended much higher than elsewhere?' The Court has thus been given an opportunity to refine its case-law on the ‘anti-discrimination directives’ – in the present case the Directive 2000/43/EC (the “race directive”)." See: Opinion of Advocate General Kokott delivered on 20 September 2012 (Case C-394/11)

EU countries in the dark on human trafficking (EUobserver): "Member states lack reliable data to fully evaluate the scale of human trafficking in the EU the European Commission said on Monday"

EU needs to redefine its approach to fraud - study (New Europe): "The European Union needs to alter its definition of organised crime, if it to successfully overcome the problem of misuse of EU funds through illegal activity, one expert has told the European Parliament"

EU: 'No time frame' for EU migrant plan (Times of Malta): "There is “no time frame” for the European Parliament’s resolution on immigration solidarity to be translated into action but a Cypriot MEP is confident things will move fast"

EU: Viewpoints: What future for the European project (BBC News): "The phrase 'ever closer union' may be anathema to Eurosceptics, but a more federal EU is now being hotly debated, as common economic rules and targets are deemed vital for the euro's survival. Generally poor turnout in European Parliament elections suggests that many voters struggle to identify with EU issues, including further integration. So are the politicians leaving voters behind? Is the EU democratic enough?"

France walks tightrope on northern Mali intervention (France 24): "Caught between its colonial past and recent threats by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to kill French hostages in the region, France is navigating a tricky political and military tightrope when it comes to recent events in Mali... But if France is avoiding the spotlight in Mali, it’s been more active behind the scenes. French daily Le Figaro reported on Monday that 'a hundred members of French special forces have already been deployed in the region'. According to the news daily, France will also be sending naval commandos and maritime patrol aircraft, as well as setting up a surveillance operation based in Niger."

FRANCE: Wrongful conviction overturned in France (Euronews): "A 51-year-old man has become only the seventh person in France since 1945 to have a wrongful conviction overturned. Loic Secher served seven years in jail after being wrongly convicted of raping a 15-year-old girl in 2003. The former farm worker has been awarded 800 thousand euros compensation"

GERMANY: Neo-Nazi cell investigation: Berlin suspected of witholding sensitive information (Spiegel Online): "A primary suspect in the ongoing investigation into the National Socialist Underground, the neo-Nazi terror cell suspected of having murdered 10 people, worked as an informant for the city-state of Berlin. But senior officials have proven uncooperative in the investigation"

GREECE: Leftist parties lambast 'blasphemy' arrest (Ekathimerini): "Democratic Left, one of the parties in Greece's tripartite coalition government, and main opposition party Syriza on Tuesday lambasted authorities for the arrest of a 27-year-old man in Evia on blasphemy charges"

GREECE: Man jailed for eight months over race attack (Ekathimerini): "A 30-year-old private security worker was order by a court in Xanthi, northeastern Greece, to serve eight months of a three-year suspended jail sentence and to pay a fine of 200 euros over the assault last week on a anti-racism activist and member of the local Muslim minority"

GREECE: Migrants and shops attacked in central Athens (Ekathimerini): "A group of about 20 to 30 people attacked migrants and stores managed by immigrants on Amerikis Square in central Athens late on Tuesday"

GREECE: Pasok pushes hate crime legislation (Athens News): "Ratification of the draft law on stamping out racism and xenophobia is an 'absolute priority' for Pasok, a party announcement said on Tuesday"

Greek government faces first big anti-austerity strike (AlertNet): "Flights and trains were suspended, shops pulled down their shutters and hospitals worked on emergency staff on Wednesday in Greece's first big anti-austerity strike since a coalition government took power in June"

NORTHERN IRELAND: Rehiring of ex-officers 'taints HET probes' (Belfast Telegraph): "The rehiring of retired RUC officers to assist in unsolved murder investigations taints the entire process in illegality, the High Court has heard"

Romania's top court throws out decree limiting its powers (EUbusiness): "Romania's constitutional court ruled Wednesday that a government decree limiting its powers was in breach of the country's constitution, the latest development in a months-long political saga"

SPAIN: Police brutality turns streets of Madrid into war zone (Occupy News Network): "As soon as demonstrators got any near the congress they were stopped by barriers over 6 foot tall and a contingent of around 2000 police officers most of them in riot gear. As people felt trapped some started to take down some of the barriers and breaking to the other side of the fencing. This seemed to give the police the green light to use as much force and brutality as they deemed necessary to stop people breaching the barrier line." See also: Spain police fire rubber bullets at Madrid protest (BBC News) and Spain prepares more austerity, protesters battle police (AlertNet)

UK-IRAN: Has Britain's war on drugs led to more executions in Iran? (The Observer): "Human rights campaigners are increasingly worried that funding to combat the narcotics trade is providing indirect assistance to a judicial system that is engaged in what has been described as 'a killing spree of staggering proportions'"

UK: Plan for dismantling Britain's nuclear arsenal (The Guardian): "All 120 armed warheads on Britain's fleet of Trident submarines could be removed within a month in a staged dismantling of the country's nuclear weapons system. It would take just two years to remove Britain's entire stockpile of nuclear weapon from the Clyde, and four years to dismantle the entire stockpile of less than 225 warheads. This is the timetable set out in what the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) calls 'a practical guide to de-activating and dismantling the Trident nuclear weapon system'."

US-PAKISTAN: Drone attacks in Pakistan are counterproductive, says report (The Guardian): "The CIA's programme of "targeted" drone killings in Pakistan's tribal heartlands is politically counterproductive, kills large numbers of civilians and undermines respect for international law, according to a report by US academics." See: Living under drones: Death, injury and trauma to civilians from US drone practices in Pakistan (pdf)

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