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News digest: 30 April 2013

Austria joins EU in tackling benefit fraudsters (Austrian Times): " Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain demand sanctions against "social tourism" within the EU. The Interior Ministers signed a letter to the EU-commission yesterday (Thurs) without naming certain states." See also: Britain and Germany join forces to demand curb on the 'burden' of benefits tourists that put 'considerable strain' on schools, healthcare and welfare (Daily Mail) and Full text of letter from Austria, Netherland, Germany and UK governments to the EU Council Presidency (pdf)

AUSTRIA: Asylum seekers in Votivkirche threaten new protest action (Austrian Times): " The refugees, who occupied Votivkirche of Vienna and moved to the convent Servitenkloster in March, demanded the termination of the deportation proceedings and announced new public action. The asylum application was rejected in more than half of the 56 cases"

BALKANS: Hundreds of Balkan refugee families get new homes (Balkan Insight): "Almost 500 families from Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia will be given new homes in a scheme that also aims to solve tens of thousands more wartime refugees’ housing problems"

Bosnian census accused of dividing Bosniaks (Balkan Insight): "Bosniak [Muslim] institutions and organizations have complained to Bosnia's Statistics Agency about fears that the autumn census will divide Bosniaks into different groups"

Bosnian torture victims stage parliament protest (Balkan Insight): "Victims’ groups protested at the state parliament in Sarajevo about delays in adopting an umbrella law to provide basic rights for some 200,000 people who were tortured in wartime"

BULGARIA: New bugging scandal hits Bulgaria ex-PM (Balkan Insight): "The release of a covert recording of former Prime Minister Boiko Borisov has intensified the continuing scandal over the bugging of top Bulgarian politicians." See also: Bulgarian ex-interior minister faces eavesdropping charges

Croatia shakes up customs before EU entry (Balkan Insight): "As Croatia readies to become the 28th EU member state in July, the customs service faces major changes"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Exploitation, forced labour on the rise in CR (Prague Daily Monitor): "The number of exploited people has been rising in the Czech Republic, not only those from third countries but also from the EU as well as Czechs from ghettoes and the homeless, La Strada Czech Republic organisation head Irena Fercikova Konecna told reporters yesterday"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Gov't to back commemoration of Roma Holocaust (Prague Daily Monitor): "The Czech government will probably support the plan to commemorate March 7 as the day to remember the victims of Romany persecution during World War Two." See also: US writer: Czechs should admit their part in Roma Holocaust

CZECH REPUBLIC: Jakl, Hájek real authors of Klaus's amnesty, says Zeman's office head (Prague Daily Monitor): "Former Czech president Vaclav Klaus's assistants Ladislav Jakl and Petr Hajek and lawyer Pavel Hasenkopf were the real authors of the controversial presidential amnesty, Vratislav Mynar, head of the office of President Milos Zeman, told Saturday's issue of daily Pravo"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Many Czechs cannot afford hiring defence lawyers (Prague Daily Monitor): "Thousands of people in the Czech Republic need lawyers' help, but they cannot afford hiring them, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes yesterday, adding that a law that would deal with the situation is lacking"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Ministry to scrap tender for e-bracelets for convicts (Prague Daily Monitor): "The Czech Justice Ministry Monday announced its decision to scrap the ongoing tender for the supply of e-bracelets for monitoring convicts in home arrest as the supply may be excessive in view of the real number of convicts, and it will put up a new tender by June, Stepanka Cechova said"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Poll: Majority of Czechs think too many foreigners work in country (Prague Daily Monitor): "Three-quarters of Czechs think that there are too many foreigners working in the country and the same amount of people claim the employment of foreign nationals deprives Czech citizens of work, said a poll carried out by the agency STEM"

DENMARK: Health clinic targets immigrants and asylum seekers (The Copenhagen Post): "New clinic wants to serve a vulnerable group whose trauma or cultural barriers keep them from getting the diagnoses they need"

DENMARK: High-profile couple win immigration appeal (The Copenhagen Post): "Journalist Ralf Christensen, who sparked a national debate last autumn, and his wife Merih receive family reunification under EU laws"

DENMARK: Personal information frighteningly easy to get online (The Copenhagen Post): "Part of the job of Margrethe Vestager (Radikale), the interior and economy minister, is to assure the safety and integrity of the social security (CPR) numbers of the country’s residents. But over the weekend, she was given a scary lesson on just how easy it is to obtain a CPR number illegally. In less than two minutes, a reporter for TV2 News went online, and by searching Vestager’s name and birthday, was able to obtain the last four digits of the economy minister’s CPR number. That information could leave an unsuspecting victim vulnerable to identity theft or other abuse"

EU-US: Countering terrorism, solving crime: the value of digital information (The Irish Times): "Since 9/11, US counter-terrorist organisations have put pressure on European airlines and financial institutions to reveal information about people, despite strict EU rules on data"

FRANCE: ‘Anti-white’ racism trial begins in France (France 24): " In a case being backed by a leading anti-racism group, a trial began in France on Friday in which the defendant stands accused of a racially-motivated attack on a white man in a Paris metro station"

FRANCE: Eta 'top commander' gets life sentence in France (BBC News): "A suspected military leader of the Basque separatist group Eta has been sentenced to life in jail for the 2007 murder of two policemen in France"

German investigators sharpen focus on far right (Spiegel Online): "For years, German federal law-enforcement officials hesitated to launch terrorism investigations against right-wing extremists. But the NSU debacle has prompted them to launch an unprecedented number of cases and to employ controversial means in an effort to avoid accusations of inaction"

German police hope to use new spyware (Deutsche Welle): "German investigators are hoping to gain greater access to telecommunications data in order to combat terrorism. But there is controversy over the spyware they want to use to keep tabs on private computers." See also: State Trojans: Germany exports "spyware with a badge"

German surveillance is used against dissidents (Deutsche Welle): "German companies supply the world, including authoritarian regimes, with surveillance technology. A ban is not in sight. Human rights activists demand stricter export regulations for such "digital weapons""

Germany set to face human rights review (Deutsche Welle): "Germany is set to defend its human rights record in front of the UN in Geneva. Activists have heaped criticism on Berlin's treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers"

GERMANY: Another attempt to ban the far-right NPD (Deutsche Welle): "The upper house of the German parliament wants to ban the NPD, but it's not supported by the government. The lower house, the Bundestag, has debated the issue, and it's refused to back a ban"

GERMANY: Court faces fresh trouble over press seats (Spiegel Online): "The Munich court where the NSU neo-Nazi terror trial is due to start on May 6 faces fresh controversy over media accreditation after several major German newspapers failed to obtain seats in a lottery of press passes. It was the second attempt to allocate seats after Turkish media had been left out in the first round"

GERMANY: Interior minister wants more video surveillance (Deutsche Welle): " German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich is calling for more surveillance cameras in public areas after the Boston Marathon bombing attacks"

GERMANY: Study: Germans see Islam as a threat (Deutsche Welle): "A major study of attitudes towards religion says Germans approve of openness towards other religions. But many are still suspicious of Islam"

GERMANY: The search for the last Nazi henchmen (Deutsche Welle): "It's a race against time: Germany's Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes is looking for more than 50 former concentration camp guards. Even 70 years later, it could still secure convictions"

Greece to push claim for German war reparations, foreign minister tells parliament (Ekathimerini): "Greece is planning to pursue a long-dormant claim for reparations from Germany over World War Two, a further strain on relations with Berlin, which foots most of the bill for its 240-billion euro rescue." See also: ICJ in The Hague may declare itself incompetent over war reparations issue, expert warns

GREECE: Bishop Seraphim turns against Golden Dawn (Ekathimerini): "Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus, who has courted controversy in the past with anti-Semitic comments, on Tuesday launched an unexpected attack on far-right Golden Dawn due to the party embracing paganism"

GREECE: City of Athens to crack down on illegal use of public space (Ekathimerini): "Athens municipal police will be intensifying inspections on cafes, kiosks and other businesses that use public sidewalks and squares for seating or to display their wares, following a crackdown in the popular central district of Gazi last week"

GREECE: Dendias says Greeks aren't xenophobes (Greek Reporter): "Defending Greece’s roundup of immigrants suspected of being in the country unlawfully, Greek Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias, during a trip to New York, told CNN International that, “The Greek society is not xenophobic at all, rather the opposite"

GREECE: Doctor's report said to back brutality claims at Grevena prison (Ekathimerini): "A doctor's report has supported allegations made by inmates in Grevena Prison, in northern Greece, that they suffered serious physical injuries when they were beaten by officers of the police’s special EKAM squad and guards earlier this month, Eleftherotypia reports"

GREECE: Hospitals on alert over Golden Dawn plans to organize blood drive (Ekathimerini): "The union representing state hospital workers on Thursday appealed to staff to be on alert ahead of plans by members of ultra-right Golden Dawn to organize blood donations at hospitals around the country on Saturday." See also: Golden Dawn invades Nikaia hospital (Greek Reporter)

GREECE: Kiosk owner who led movement in march from Volos to Athens found hanged (Ekathimerini): "A kiosk owner from Volos who had formed a citizens’ movement that saw members walk to Athens to highlight the problems faced by businesses in central Greece has been found hanged"

GREECE: Protesters detained for replacing Greek flag with banner (Ekathimerini): "Police on Wednesday detained a group of 30 protesters who had replaced a Greek flag with their own banner outside the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens on the same day"

Hungary's rawest nerve: Learning to love the Roma (BBC News): "The relationship between the Roma minority and the non-Roma majority is a difficult one in many central European countries. There are frequently problems in Hungary, but could there also be examples of good practice?"

HUNGARY: European watchdog moves to monitor Hungary (BBC News): "A committee of the Council of Europe, the continent's main human rights and democracy watchdog, has recommended monitoring Hungary." See: Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: Request for the opening of a monitoring procedure in respect of Hungary (pdf)

HUNGARY: Parliament rushes through new limits on access to public data amid controversy over state tobacco shop tender (Politics.hu): "Parliament on Tuesday approved a ruling Fidesz bill to put data related to public organisations under the purview of the State Audit Office and the Government Control Office"

Hungarian Parliament passes resolution condemning comments of EC commissioner Reding (Politics.hu): "Hungary’s Parliament on Monday approved a resolution, condemning the statements EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding had made concerning Irishman Ciaran Tobin, who was sentenced in absentia by a Hungarian court for killing two children in a car accident"

IRELAND: Government cuts on travellers are neither fair nor equitable (Pavee Point, press release, pdf): "Pavee Point launched a report this morning, Travelling with Austerity, which documents the cuts to Travellers, Traveller projects and services since 2008. 'This Travelling with Austerity report exposes the lie that cuts are being apportioned fairly in society. The report documents and reveals government abandonment of Travellers under the guise of Austerity and is an indictment of government policy and commitments to protecting the vulnerable and ensuring fairness in society' said Ms Ronnie Fay, co director of Pavee Point." Full report: 'Travelling with Austerity' - Impacts of cuts on Travellers, Travellers projects and services (pdf)

IRELAND: 5 ‘serious incidents’ of racism a week in Ireland (The Journal): "On public transport, in offices, on the street and in neighbourhoods: The Immigrant Council of Ireland says the reported incidents of racism has grown significantly." See: Surge in reported racist incidents (Immigrant Council of Ireland)

IRELAND: Supreme Court dismisses Marie Fleming’s ‘right to die’ appeal (The Journal): "Chief Justice Susan Denham said the circumstances were “very tragic” but that there was no Constitutional ‘right to die’"

Italy gunman 'targeted politicians' in Rome shooting (BBC News): "A gunman who shot and seriously injured two policemen outside the Italian PM's office in Rome was acting out of anger at politicians, prosecutors allege"

ITALY: Fascist salutes at funeral of popular Rome rightist (Gazzetta del Sud): "Rightist militants made Fascist salutes at Friday's funeral of a popular neo-Fascist veteran of Roman politics, Teodoro Buontempo. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party and former PdL Senate caucus leader Maurizio Gasparri were among the right-wing leaders attending the Mass for Buontemp, nicknamed 'Er Pecora' (The Goat) in Roman dialect for his earthy humour and ability to connect with the common people"

ITALY: NATO members express approval of Napolitano's re-election (Gazzetta del Sud): "NATO representatives meeting in Brussels on Tuesday expressed their approval of President Giorgio Napolitano's re-election, outgoing Italian Premier Mario Monti said." See also: U.S. 'very happy' about Napolitano says Kerry

ITALY: Rightists spray-paint Resistance praise (Gazzetta del Sud): "One of Italy's extreme-right groups spray-painted a slogan lauding WWII Resistance fighters on the eve of the anniversary of the country's liberation by the Allies"

MALTA: Prison warder denies that she ordered drugs to be thrown away (Malta Independent): "A woman prison warder denied that she gave orders to a prisoner to throw away drugs, as claimed by the prisoner. Warder Nina Formosa was testifying in the compilation of evidence against Concetta Decelis and her son Jason, who are accused of drug trafficking in jail"

NETHERLANDS: Police chief: A placard saying 'down with the queen' won't worry us (Dutch News): "Some 10,000 police officers from all over the country will be on duty in Amsterdam during Tuesday's investiture of king Willem-Alexander. However, there are no signs that tomorrow will see a repeat performance of the riots which disturbed the investiture ceremony of Queen Beatrix in 1980, the Volkskrant reports."

NETHERLANDS: Police failed to meet illegal immigrant arrest quota last year (Dutch News): "Police handed 3,560 illegal immigrants to the deportation agency last year, below their target of 4,800, current affairs show Nieuwsuur reported on Wednesday evening."

NETHERLANDS: Samsom calls Labour summit as tension grows over immigration plan (The Amsterdam Herald): "The Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) is to hold a special council on illegal immigration after party delegates emphatically rejected the leadership’s stance on the issue at the weekend. The coalition agreement that Labour agreed with the Liberals (VVD) in November included a proposed law which would make it a criminal offence to stay in the Netherlands without authorisation. At a party conference on Saturday an overwhelming majority backed a motion against the policy, arguing it went against Labour’s fundamental commitment to “the right to a decent living”." See also: Labour members rebel on plan to criminalise illegal immigrants and Labour leader ignores party congress on illegal vote: I gave my word (Dutch News)

NORTHERN IRELAND: Enniskillen town centre in £233k facelift for G8 (Belfast Telegraph): " An extra £233,000 has been given to Enniskillen to help spruce up its town centre ahead of the G8 Summit. Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland made the grant to Fermanagh District Council. His department said the funding will be used for painting and signage and retailer training to make the area more attractive to visitors ahead of the June event which will see world leaders come to Lough Erne."

NORTHERN IRELAND: Judge orders Downing Street to hand over Finucane documents (The Detail): "The British government has been ordered to hand over minutes of cabinet meetings at which the decision was made to refuse a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane." See: Judgment (pdf)

NORTHERN IRELAND: PSNI accused of attempting to intimidate new witness in murder appeal (The Detail): "Two men’s appeal against convictions for the murder of PSNI constable Stephen Carroll has been adjourned until October after prosecutors claimed that new evidence has emerged in the case"

NORTHERN IRELAND: Suspected illegal immigrants held (Belfast Telegraph): " Five suspected illegal immigrants have been arrested while working at restaurants in Belfast city centre, the Home Office said"

Norway Crown Prince criticized for intended Lockheed Martin visit (The Foreigner): " HRH Crown Prince Haakon’s scheduled visit to weapons producer Lockheed Martin draws fire from the Left"

Norway government ups municipal refugee settlement (The Foreigner): "Several thousand refugees granted residency in Norway can now perhaps look forward to progress in getting a place to live following a binding trans-red tape agreement signing, Monday"

ROMANIA: Bucharest to host CoE Cybercrime Combat Office (ACTMedia): "The Council of Europe gave a positive response to Bucharest's request to host the Council of Europe Cybercrime Combat Office intended to fight cybercrime, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland declared in a joint press statement with Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who is currently in Strasbourg"

SPAIN/MELILLA: Ex-Melilla chief opens his doors to 40 fleeing migrants (El Pais): "The former mayor-president of Melilla, Mustafa Aberchán, on Friday defended his decision to literally open the doors of his home to let in about 40 sub-Saharan migrants who the police were trying to detain"

SPAIN: Family's struggles as Spain unemployment hits new high (BBC News): "Unemployment has risen once again in Spain to another new record of more than six million. The jobless rate has now edged past 27%, according to official data." See also: Protests over Spain unemployment figures and Voices from Spain's unemployed millions

SPAIN: Spamhaus hacking suspect 'had mobile attack van' (BBC News): "A Dutchman accused of mounting one of the biggest attacks on the internet used a "mobile computing office" in the back of a van." See also: Hacking suspect behind 'biggest cyberattack in history' is arrested in Spain (The Independent)

Switzerland to limit immigration from all EU states (BBC News): "The Swiss government is to limit immigration from all EU states from May for a period of one year, in a move criticised by Brussels." See also: Prague protests against Swiss quotas (Prague Daily Monitor) and Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the decision of the Swiss Government to apply quantitative restrictions to the free movement of EU citizens in Switzerland (Europa, press release)

SWITZERLAND: Latest asylum reform faces nationwide vote (swissinfo.ch): "Leftwing parties, trade unions and human rights groups are challenging a decision by parliament to restrict access to asylum and set up special centres to speed up the procedure. It is the latest in a long series of reforms of the Swiss asylum law." See video: Pas de panique. Non à la révision de la loi sur l'asile le 9 juin (Amnesty Switzerland, YouTube)

UK: Act of Terror (Network for Police Monitoring): "A must-see film from Fat Rat Films: While filming a routine stop and search of her boyfriend on the London Underground, Gemma suddenly found herself detained, handcuffed and threatened with arrest. Act of Terror tells the story of her fight to bring the police to justice and prevent this happening to anyone else, ever again."

UK: Abu Qatada case: UK agrees assistance treaty with Jordan (BBC News): "The government has signed a mutual assistance treaty with Jordan to ensure that radical cleric Abu Qatada can be deported, Theresa May has told MPs"

UK: Andrew Pimlott burns death prompts IPCC Taser inquiry (BBC News): "The police watchdog is investigating whether a Taser electric stun gun ignited a flammable liquid which caused a man to be fatally burned"

UK: Anti-drone protests take off in Britain (CNN): "A coalition of protesters marched Saturday under sunny skies to a Royal Air Force base north of London to voice its opposition to the UK's use of armed drones in Afghanistan." See also: UK drone protesters say stop the 'barbaric high-tech killing' (Common Dreams)

UK: New legal aid reforms end 'justice for all', lawyers warn (The Independent): "Under plans to save £200m solicitors will be paid fixed fees, with contracts going to firms like G4S"

UK: Prisoners 'must work harder' for privileges (BBC News): "Male prisoners in England and Wales must work harder for privileges such as TVs in cells, the government has said"

UK: The memory stick killing: When police lost a data card with names of 1,000 informants, they questioned this father - then cleared him. Two months later, they shot him dead (Daily Mail): "An unarmed man shot dead by a police marksman as he sat in a car was wrongly suspected only weeks before of stealing a computer memory stick containing the names of 1,075 police informants"

UK: UAE State visit continues arms sales drive to repressive Gulf regime (Campaign Against Arms Trade, press release): " Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has condemned the UK government's arms export drive to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Data recently released shows that in 2012 the UK licensed weaponry worth £26.2 million to the authoritarian UAE despite their lack of human rights and democratic process. The new data comes on the eve of a state visit to the UK by the ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa, on 30 April-1 May"


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