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News digest: 16 April 2013

Albania faces questions over arms for Libya (Balkan Insight): "Albania has promised to investigate how around 800,000 12.7 mm rounds of ammunition, originating from Albanian surplus stocks, were shipped to Libya at the height of the civil war in September 2011 in defiance of an arms embargo"

Bulgarian border authorities detain 6 illegal migrants (Novinite): "Bulgarian border police have detained six migrants who tried to enter the country from Turkey at the Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint"

Bulgarian wire-tapping scandal escalates before polls (Balkan Insight): "The Bulgarian prosecutor said an investigation had uncovered a series of wiretapping violations at the country’s interior ministry after allegations that top politicians were bugged." See also: 2 police bosses released from duty in Bulgarian 'Watergate'

CZECH REPUBLIC: European court upholds ban of extremist party (Prague Daily Monitor): "The European Human Rights Court has stopped dealing with a complaint by the dissolved Czech Workers' Party (DS) and its former chairman Tomas Vandas, the Justice Ministry has said on its website, saying this means the party's dissolution can be considered definitive."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Gov't rejects proposed changes to sCard project (Prague Daily Monitor): "The Czech government yesterday rejected the proposed modifications to the project of electronic social cards (sCards) for welfare benefit payment and Labour Minister Ludmila Muellerova (TOP 09) must submit an alternative solution, Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) said"

DENMARK: 15-year-old arrested for shutting down local government association website (The Copenhagen Post): "A 15-year-old boy from Nykøbing Falster has been arrested along with other suspects for launching a cyber attack that shut down local government association KL’s website, according to a police statement"

DENMARK: Teachers organise massive demonstration (The Copenhagen Post): "We want democracy back!" teachers' union head bellows to the thousands of teachers who braved the weather to show their support for an end to the lockout." See also: Parents look to sue councils over lockout

EU reports rise in Kosovar asylum seekers (Balkan Insight): "The number of Kosovars seeking asylum rose slightly in 2012, new data from the EU’s statistics agency show, possibly setting back Kosovo’s hopes of gaining visa-free access to the EU Schengen area." See also: Eurostat: The number of asylum applicants i nthe EU27 rose to more than 330,000 in 2012 (pdf)

EU: Ashton tours Balkans ahead of EU progress report (Balkan Insight): "As the European Commission prepares to issue a progress report on the western Balkans, the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is visiting the region to promote reforms"

EU: Bulgarians, Romanians worst affected by human trafficking in EU (Novinite): "EU’s two poorest member states, Bulgaria and Romania, are also the countries with the bloc’s largest number of people falling prey of human trafficking, according to a European Commission report." See also: Romania - a major source of human trafficking victims (Act Media); EUROSTAT: First EU statistical data report (Europa, press release) and Eurostat: Trafficking in human beings (pdf)

EU: Businesses can provide the detail of their purpose in collecting personal data via links in online policies, says watchdog (Out-Law.com); See also: Article 29 Working Party: Opinion 03/2013 on purpose limitation (pdf)

EU: EU skeptic wins the first European Parliament elections in Croatia (Croatian Times): "An EU sceptic has won the most votes at the first European Parliament elections in Croatia held on Sunday. Ruza Tomasic, a former police woman in Canada and the leader of the right wing HSP AS, has won the most votes despite of being clearly an EU sceptic for months." Croats to elect first MEPs on Sunday (Balkan Insight)

EU: Europe's forced returnees claim abuse (IRIN News): "Cases of excessive force being used to remove rejected asylum seekers have been documented in a number of European countries. But with the financial crisis eroding sympathy and tolerance for asylum seekers, there has been little public or political support for measures that would provide more humane approaches to removing those reluctant to accept an asylum rejection"

EU: Facing discrimination, Roma strive to succeed (SETimes.com): "International Roma Day marked the renewal of European and international institutions' call for the integration of Roma communities in the region"

EU: Irish Presidency progresses EU accession negotiations with Montenegro (finchannel.com): "The Irish Presidency has today agreed, on behalf of the Council of the European Union, with Montenegro to open and provisionally the second chapter in its negotiations under its EU accession process"

EU: German politicians blame Romania’s USL for delays in Schengen accession for Romania and Bulgaria (Romania Insider): "Two conservative German MEPs have publicly blamed Romania’s left of center government by the Social Liberal Union (USL) for holding up Romania and Bulgaria’s Schengen area accession. Contradicting his own government and dismissing the European Commission’s position, German MEP Manfred Weber (in picture), vice chairman of the European People’s Party, lauded Bulgaria’s progress and laid the blame for blocking both countries from Schengen membership squarely on the shoulders of the Romanian government"

EU: Logjam over Bosnia rights ruling disappoints EU (Balkan Insight): "After talks with Bosnian leaders, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said with regret that Bosnia's EU failure to agree on a key rights ruling would stall its European advance"

EU: UK businesses want change to EU terms, says lobby group (BBC News): "Business lobby group British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) says most UK companies want to stay in Europe, with some powers brought back home"

FRANCE: Black workers 'banned from Gare du Nord during Israeli president visit' (The Telegraph): "Black and North African railway workers were banned from working at Paris's Gare du Nord when the President of Israel visited France over fears they might be Muslim, it has emerged"

FRANCE: Racist graffiti targets future Paris-region mosque (France 24): "The building site of a future mosque near Paris was marked with racist graffiti - including Nazi swastikas - over the weekend, with anti-Muslim acts on the rise in France"

FRANCE-ROMANIA: IGI and Embassy of French Republic in Bucharest sign convention on cooperating in combating illegal immigration (Act Media): "Deputy General Inspector of the General Inspectorate for Immigrations (IGI) Iordache Paun and Ambassador of the French Republic in Bucharest Philippe Gustin on Wednesday, in Bucharest, signed the convention on cooperating in combating illegal migration, whose aim is to continue the exchange of experience and good practices in preventing and combating illegal migration as well as strengthening the cooperation between the two institutions"

Germany finds neo-Nazi network in jails (BBC News): "German authorities are investigating a network of neo-Nazis who used secret code to communicate from prison cells. The network expanded from prisons in the state of Hesse, but its full extent is not yet clear, officials say." See also: Neo-Nazis built up German prison network (Deutsche Welle)

GERMANY: New date May 6: German neo-Nazi terror trial postponed (Spiegel Online): "The start of the trial of suspected neo-Nazi Beate Zschäpe, due to begin on Wednesday, has been postponed by three weeks to May 6 because media accreditation for the proceedings has to start from scratch following a row over foreign press access." See also: Beate Zschaepe: German neo-Nazi trial delayed (BBC News) Neo-Nazi trial delay 'disastrous' for victims' families; and Seeking closure: Relatives claim new rights in neo-Nazi trial (Spiegel Online)

GERMANY: Putin's spies target German embassy staff (The Local): "Over 25 years after his stint as a spy in Dresden for the Soviet KGB, Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasing surveillance of the German government as the Kremlin ratchets up its anti-German rhetoric, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Monday"

GERMANY: Neo-Nazis seek new blood among cage fighters (Spiegel Online): "The brutal combat sport known as free fighting is enjoying growing popularity in Germany. Neo-Nazis are infiltrating the world and using it to spread propaganda and recruit new blood"

Greece becomes outpost in Turkey's "anti-terror" campaign (Inter Press Service): "Zeki Gorbuz, a Turkish asylum seeker in Greece, who was arrested on Feb. 12, remains detained today due to an international warrant that was transmitted by Turkish authorities to Greece just one day before his asylum interview. Turkish media were quick to report the arrest, describing Gorbuz as a radical leftist and regional leader of the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLCP), which has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the Turkish government"

GREECE: Another protest against gold mine project (Greek Reporter): "Unrelenting in their opposition, thousands of Greek protesters on April 13 demonstrated against a gold mining venture under way in the northeastern region of Halkidiki, which locals say will cause irreversible damage to the environment." See also: Police station attacked in gold protest (Greek Reporter); Police arrest two Skouries arson attack suspects in violent night raid and Arrests over Skouries gold mine protests fuel reprisals against police (Ekathimerini)

GREECE: Greek crisis is leading to more drug offences among minors, say experts (Ekathimerini): "The Greek crisis has had a direct impact on juvenile crime, according to experts who expressed concern over the number of minors involved in criminal activities such as drug dealing and use." See also: Greece ranks 25th out of 29 in the well-being of its children

GREECE: Greek government shutters Athens Indymedia (Global Voices): "A leading alternative news site in Greece, Athens Indymedia announced it was being suppressed by Greek judicial authorities, along with two radio stations." See also: Students occupy NTUA over Indymedia shutdown (Greek Reporter)

GREECE: Greek Tweeters press Golden Dawn boycott (Greek Reporter): "Angry that a prominent Greek TV station hosted four members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party on a show, critics have begun a Twitter campaign pushing a boycott of any media that gives time to the extremists, who have 18 seats in the Parliament"

GREECE: Leaked Council of Europe report suggests Greece could ban Golden Dawn (Ekathimerini): "Greece has adequate legal grounds to outlaw Golden Dawn or any other political organization found to be engaging in racially motivated crimes, Europe’s human rights watchdog suggests in a leaked report set to be formally released on Tuesday"

GREECE: Riot breaks out at Corinth migrant detention center; 47 arrested (Ekathimerini): "Police on Wednesday arrested 47 Afghans at an immigrant facility in Corinth, south of Athens, after they hurled roof tiles at their guards." See also: Riot at Corinth migrant detention center (Greek Reporter): "Immigrants rounded up in sweep of Athens and Greek cities who were being held in a detention center on a former military base in Corinth clashed with police on April 10, leading to 47 Afghans being arrested, authorities said, according to AP"

Hungarian deputy premier downplays “groundless” concerns in latest warning from EC president Barroso (Politics.hu): "The latest letter by Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, addressed to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, underlining concerns over the fourth constitutional amendment, raises empty threats and contains “groundless concerns,” Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics said late on Friday." See also: The European Commission reiterates its serious concerns over the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of Hungary (Europa, press release)

HUNGARY: Romania calls for answers in case of suspected police brutality in Hungary (euronews): "Tensions are running high between Bucharest and Budapest following the suspicious death of a Romanian man at a police station in Hungary"

IRELAND: Lithuanian extradition request turned down by High Court (RTÉ News): "The High Court has refused to extradite a Co Louth man wanted in Lithuania on terrorism and firearms charges"

IRELAND: Law Reform Commission report calls for reform of jury service system (RTÉ News): "Allowing non-Irish citizens and people with certain disabilities to serve on juries are among the proposals contained in a new Law Reform Commission report"

ITALY: Anarchist groups claim Turin newspaper bomb (Gazzetta del Sud): "The Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI) and the International Revolutionary Front (FRI) on Friday claimed responsibility for a letter bomb delivered to the La Stampa newspaper offices in Turin on Tuesday"

ITALY: Bossi denies launching new party (Gazzetta del Sud): "Umberto Bossi, the former head of the regionalist Northern League, told ANSA on Friday he did not file papers to launch a new political party"

ITALY: Frattini, NATO candidate, 'to assume Council of State role' (Gazzetta del Sud)

ITALY: 'Germany may reopen probe into Nazi massacre in Italy' (Gazzetta del Sud): "erman authorities may reopen an investigation into Nazi soldiers who allegedly massacred 560 civilians in a Tuscan village in 1944, German media reported Friday"

ITALY: Prisoners at high risk of mental illness in Italy (Gazzetta del Sud): "As many as one third of prison inmates are at high risk of developing a mental illness, said psychiatrists gathered for a conference Friday. About 20,000 of the 70,000 inmates in Italian prisons have developed diseases such as psychosis, depression, severe anxiety, and bipolar disorder, say the experts gathered for a national congress of young psychiatrists"

ITALY: Six police arrested in drug, prostitution op (Gazzetta del Sud): " Six police officers and a police guard were among 13 people arrested Monday in a drugs and prostitution sweep in and around this northern Italian city." See also: 'Several' police arrested in drug op

ITALY: Two migrant boats stopped off Lampedusa (Gazzetta del Sud): "Italian patrols on Friday intercepted two boats carrying migrants from Africa near the stepping-stone island of Lampedusa. About 100 people had already landed from one of the vessels, police said, while there were an estimated 100 on the other boat"

Macedonia media law stirs censorship fears (Balkan Insight): "Journalists and media workers have criticized a proposed Law on Media that the government revealed last week, saying it could be used as a tool for censorship." See also: Two more critical media close in Macedonia

Mediterranean states adopt joint security strategy (Magharebia): "Interior ministers of the ten Mediterranean countries on Tuesday (April 9th) proposed ways to co-operate in the fight against terrorism, organised crime and illegal migration." See also: From Tunis in 2003 to Malta in 2012: the first 5+5 Dialogue summit since the Arab uprising focuses on immigration and security (Statewatch News Online)

NETHERLANDS: 'Dutch integration test is a barrier to integration' (Dutch News): "The citizenship test which immigrants have to take to live in the Netherlands or to acquire Dutch nationality has the opposite effect to stimulating integration, according to a researcher at Nijmegen’s Radboud University"

NETHERLANDS: Former civil servant faces 15 years in jail for spying for Russia (Dutch News)

NETHERLANDS: Justice ministry to take control of refugee centres (Dutch News)

NETHERLANDS: Reports of human trafficking rose 40% last year (Dutch News): "The number of reports of possible human trafficking incidents rose 40% last year to 1,711, according to the body charged with collating information about the crime in a new report"

NETHERLANDS: State was negligent in care of Russian asylum seeker: report (Dutch News): "The treatment of a Russian opposition activist who killed himself after being refused political asylum in the Netherlands was negligent in a number of areas, according to a critical justice ministry report"

NORTHERN IRELAND: Calls to remove 'peace walls' in Belfast (BBC News): "Today marks 15 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement which many regard as one of the defining moments of the Northern Ireland peace process. While there has been considerable progress politically, some communities are still divided by so-called "peace walls""

NORTHERN IRELAND: Declassified documents reveal army lobbied Attorney General not to prosecute soldiers (The Detail): "The Director of Public Prosecutions could be asked to reopen hundreds of Troubles-related cases involving killings from the 1970s following the discovery of statements in newly declassified papers which suggest soldiers were allowed to escape prosecution"

NORTHERN IRELAND: Racism, the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland’s ‘new minority’ (The Detail): "The Good Friday Agreement was signed on April 10, 1998, marking the effective end of the Northern Ireland Troubles and delivering peace between nationalists and unionists. But beyond the traditional Orange and Green blocs, how did smaller ethnic minority communities experience the new era?"

NORWAY: Journalists monitored by Norwegian Defence Intelligence (The Norway Post): "A new report shows that the Intelligence Service of the Norwegian Defense has illegally monitored two journalists from the Norwegian newspaper VG." See also: Demands investigation of the Intelligence Service

NORWAY: Police to consider the use of drones (The Norway Post): "The Norwegian police is considering the use of drones in their work, but are at present unwilling to share information about the issue"

NORWAY: Russians and Norweigans collaborate on border control (The Norway Post): "For the first time, Norwegian police joined a Russian police border patrol, a collaboration that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago"

POLAND: President to sign Polish missile defence bill (The News): " President Komorowski is to sign a bill today which allocates at least 4 to 5 percent of Poland's defence budget to its planned missile defence programme"

SPAIN: Prosecutors ordered to target doorstep anti-eviction protestors (El Pais): "The attorney general has ordered prosecutors across Spain to begin collecting data on protestors who have been harassing and heckling elected officials on their personal time, including those who hold rallies outside their homes." See also: Doorstep protestors may face fines of up to 6,000 euros in Madrid; Doorstep protests “pure Nazism,” says Popular Party secretary; Judges across Spain join forces to help homeowners facing eviction (El Pais)

UK: Activists use Day of Action to tell government to cut military spending, not public services (Campaign Against Arms Trade, press release): "Campaigners in London marked the third annual Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) today (15 April) with a protest outside the Houses of Parliament against continuing high levels of military spending while cuts are implemented in health, education, welfare and other areas"

UK: Asylum seeker death investigated by Home Office amid healthcare concerns (The Guardian): "The Home Office has launched an investigation into the case of an asylum seeker who died within hours of being discharged from an immigration removal centre (IRC) where he had been held for three months"

UK: Cops plan dawn raids ahead of Margaret Thatcher funeral (The Mirror): "Potential troublemakers are to be rounded up by police before Margaret Thatcher’s £10million funeral as part of a huge security operation involving more than 4,000 officers." See also: Deterrent policing ahead of Thatcher protests (Networking for Police Monitoring)

UK: G4S boss who oversaw botched Olympics contract lands bigger pay packet for 2012 despite firm's £88m loss on London games (Daily Mail): "The chief executive of the company behind the security-scandal at the London Olympics last summer received a record pay packet in 2012, following million pound losses during the Games"

UK: Human rights court blocks extradition of UK-based terror suspect to US (The Guardian): "Extraditing a UK-based terror suspect to an American "supermax" high security prison would constitute "inhuman or degrading treatment", the European court of human rights (ECHR) has ruled"

UK: Multi-million pound intelligence system scrapped (Police Oracle): "A £14million integrated criminal intelligence and information system, which has been in development for four years, has been scrapped by the Surrey police and crime commissioner (PCC) in favour of greater collaborative working"

UK: Town halls join rush to use the snoopers’ charter (The Telegraph): "Council staff, health and safety inspectors and even Royal Mail want to harness the Government’s proposed “Snoopers’ Charter” to monitor private emails, telephone records and internet use"

USA: Guantánamo Bay's last UK detainee: 'people are dying here' in hunger strike (The Guardian): "A British hunger striker inside Guantánamo Bay has laid bare the deteriorating conditions of inmates, expressing fears that he and others will soon die as a result of what he described as "systematic torture""

World military spending falls, but China, Russia’s spending rises, says SIPRI (SIPRI, press release): "The fall—the first since 1998—was driven by major spending cuts in the USA and Western and Central Europe, as well as in Australia, Canada and Japan. The reductions were, however, substantially offset by increased spending in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America. China, the second largest spender in 2012, increased its expenditure by 7.8 per cent ($11.5 billion). Russia, the third largest spender, increased its expenditure by 16 per cent ($12.3 billion)." See also: Global military spending fell in 2012 for first time in more than a decade (Ekathimerini)



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