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News digest: 9 July 2013

AUSTRIA: 5,000 nazi posts - man in court (Austrian Times): "A man accused of posting 5,000 Nazi comments on internet forums is due to appear before court"

Bosnian 'baby protesters' vent anger at politicians (Balkan Insight): "Thousands rallied in Sarajevo to demand the ousting of politicians whose failure to agree legislation on personal ID numbers has prevented sick babies from getting treatment abroad"

BULGARIA: OSCE condemns attacks on Bulgarian journalists (Balkan Insight): "The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, expressed concern on Monday over the latest case of intimidation of journalists by parliamentarian and Ataka Party leader Volen Siderov, and asked the authorities to ensure that the media can work freely in Bulgaria"

Bulgarian protesters vow to press on (SETimes.com): "Thousands of Bulgarians have protesting daily in Sofia following the election of a highly controversial figure as head of the State Agency for National Security." See also: Bulgarian protesters seek president's impeachment (Balkan Insight) and Who are the Bulgarian protesters? (Novinite)

CZECH REPUBLIC: Ceské Budejovice braces for more violence as new anti-Roma demo called (Radio Praha): "The city of Ceské Budejovice in South Bohemia is bracing for more violent anti-Roma protests this weekend, and police fear they could attract neo-Nazi skinheads from both the Czech Republic and abroad. Last Saturday an anti-Romany demonstration was followed by an unannounced march to the local Máj housing estate, home to about 350 Romanies. Around a dozen people were injured as marchers clashed with riot police." See also: Anti-Roma riots in Ceské Budejovice point to extremist trend (Prague Daily Monitor)

CZECH REPUBLIC: NGOs voice strong disapproval of new immigration bill draft (Radio Praha): "Over a hundred people gathered in front of the Interior Ministery on Tuesday to protest a new immigration bill, which migrant rights’ advocates feel is overly restrictive and discourages immigration to the Czech Republic. The draft is yet to be submitted for government’s approval, but already many voices are calling for drastic changes to the document"

DENMARK: Cyber warfare heats up (The Copenhagen Post): "The domestic intelligence agency PET has created a new 'Cybersektion' to deal with an increase in hacker attacks"

EU customs problems jam Croatia-Serbia border (Balkan Insight): "Hundreds of trucks got stuck in a 15-kilometre tailback at the Serbia-Croatia border crossing at Bajakovo because the Croatian authorities hadn’t prepared properly for EU customs procedures"

EU mission 'failed to protect Serbs in Kosovo' (Balkan Insight): "The EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, was accused by its own human rights panel of not protecting Serbs from violent attacks at an event to mark the historic ‘Battle of Kosovo’ "

EU: Arms exports: MEPs demand stronger EU controls (European Parliament, press release): " The EU should tighten up its export control policy on military technology and equipment, MEPs said on Thursday. Member states must apply and interpret more uniformly the EU's 2008 common rules setting out criteria and checks for arms export licences because of the impact that arms exports have on development, they add"

EU: Croatia's entry fee (Le Monde Diplomatique): "The country has a long coastline and history of sailors, fishermen and shipbuilders, but EU membership will probably put an end to one of its oldest industries. The yards had to be completely privatised before Croatia officially joined the EU on 1 July." See also: Croatia's accession to the European Union - Q&A (Europa, press release)

EU: Emily O’Reilly elected as European Ombudsman (Irish Independent): "Ireland's Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly has been elected as the next European Ombudsman and will take up her new post in October, it was announced today"

EU: Joint EU-US group to assess US spy ops (BBC News): "A joint EU-US expert group will investigate the alleged US spying on EU officials and report its findings in October, the European Commission says." See also: U.S. and EU Member State surveillance programmes: National security does not mean that anything goes and President Barroso's remarks on recent developments in transatlantic relations during a visit of the European Commission in Vilnius at the start of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council on 5 July 2013 (Europa, press release)

EU: Romania, Moldova boost EU integration co-operation (SETimes.com): "Romania is supporting Moldova’s EU path by assisting it in financial and legal reforms, including efforts to combat tax evasion and money laundering"

Europe gets tougher on cybercriminals (BBC News): "Tougher penalties for a wide range of cybercrimes have been agreed by European politicians. A draft directive outlining minimum jail terms for some crimes was adopted by the European Parliament on 4 July." See also: EU mandates tougher sentences for cyber crime and snooping (The Telegraph); Cecilia Malmström welcomes new EU rules to fight cyber-crime and Questions and Answers: Directive on attacks against information systems (Europa, press release)

France accused of running vast data surveillance scheme to keep tabs on population (The Independent): "France has been accused of using intelligence services to implement a large-scale electronic surveillance programme to keep tabs on its citizens." See also: France 'has vast data surveillance' - Le Monde report (BBC News)

FRANCE-UK: Third country removals to France and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Garden Court Immigration Blog)

German Defence Minister favoured to head NATO (Spiegel Online): "Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière is having a tough time in Germany these days, but he may get a second chance in Brussels. SPIEGEL has learned he is a leading contender to become the next NATO secretary general"

Germany fears NSA stole industrial secrets (Deutsche Welle): "The NSA espionage scandal has unsettled German companies. They are concerned that industrial secrets may have been stolen by US intelligence agencies." See: 'We need to protect ourselves from our friends': "The former German secret service coordinator, Bernd Schmidbauer, says that industrial espionage is going on under the cover of the anti-terror campaign. And Germany is a particularly interesting target"

GERMANY: Are the German police using racial profiling? (Deutsche Welle): "Activists say police officers often pick dark-skinned people out of a white crowd for security checks. The federal police reject the accusations of racism. They say anyone could be checked"

GERMANY: In Munich and Germany, 'refugees need hope' (Deutsche Welle): "Asylum seekers on hunger strike in Munich illustrate one thing - the fear and hopelessness of refugees in Germany, says Günter Burkhardt, head of human rights group Pro Asyl"

GERMANY: New law allows German investigators access to PIN and passwords (Deutsche Welle): "German security officials are now able to pull up personal data of internet and cell phone users with a couple of clicks. A new piece of legislation provides for this expanded access, which is drawing criticism"

GERMANY: NSA 'in bed' with German intelligence says US whistleblower Edward Snowden - and GCHQ operates a 'full take' data monitoring system (The Independent): "The fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden alleged on Sunday that the National Security Agency was “in bed together” with German intelligence despite claims by politicians in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition that they were shocked by the extent of American spying in Germany." See also: 'We're surprised by how surprised they are'; 'Stop spying, and educate about the Internet' (Deutsche Welle) and Ghosts of the NSA: Relics of Cold War spying dot Germany (Spiegel Online)

Greece wants EU to take immigrants (Greek Reporter): "Greek Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said the country continues to be so overwhelmed by illegal immigrants that other European Union countries should take some of them"

GREECE: Close PM associate rules out Golden Dawn overture (Ekathimerini): "A day after a veteran New Democracy MP urged his party to cooperate with the far-right Golden Dawn party, a close aid to the prime minister said the idea was a non-starter"

GREECE: Criticism mounts of decision to reintroduce compulsory HIV testing (Enet English): "The decision by the health minister to reintroduce a measure that allows police to detain anyone for the purposes of compulsory HIV tests has been branded a "shocking development" by the London-based Greece Solidarity Campaign." See also: Human rights watchdog decries forced HIV tests (Ekathimerini) and Greece: Gay rights campaigners appalled as health minister sanctions forced HIV tests (Pink News)

GREECE: Golden Dawn law suits put leftist and ex-rector on trial (Ekathimerini): "A left-wing intellectual and the ex-rector of the National Technical University of Athens are to stand trial on September 3 as a result of law suits filed by far-right Golden Dawn, it emerged on Thursday"

GREECE: Hunger striker enters 31st day of protest (Enet English): "In detention since December 2010, anarchist Kostas Sakkas has had his remand extended beyond the legal limit and has not been put on trial for any offences." See also: PASOK wades into row over prolonged detention of hunger striker (Ekathimerini); In Greece, things move fast – except justice for Kostas Sakkas (The Guardian) and Are the Greek Government willing to make a martyr out of a hunger-striking anarchist? (Vice)

GREECE: Lagarde list panel recommends charges against ex FinMin (Ekathimerini): "The parliamentary committee probing former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou's handling of the Lagarde list of possible tax cheats on Thursday reported its findings to Parliament and recommended that the former socialist heavyweight be charged with forging a document and breach of duty"

GREECE: More than 700 undocumented migrants repatriated in June (Ekathimerini): "A total of 713 undocumented migrants arrested in Greece returned to their countries of origin in June as part of an ongoing campaign to clamp down on rampant illegal immigration, the Greek Police reported on Tuesday"

GREECE: Nikos Dendias 'very worried' about 'Nazi' Golden Dawn (BBC News)

GREECE: Police detain 31 at university protest (Enet English): "Police used tear gas during their operation that saw many businesses on Panepistimiou St pull down their shutters in anticipation of trouble"

GREECE: Police shoot dead two fugitives from Trikala prison [Update] (Ekathimerini): "Police said late on Tuesday that they shot dead two of the inmates that escaped from Trikala Prison in central Greece earlier this year"

Greek crews rescuing 130 people from stricken boat (Ekathimerini)

HUNGARY: European court rules disbanding Magyar Garda legal (Politics.hu): "The radical nationalist Jobbik party has lost its appeal to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights which challenged a decision made by the Hungarian authorities several years ago to disband its uniformed wing, the Magyar Garda"

HUNGARY: Police launch investigation into attack at Budapest Pride (Politics.hu): "A police investigation into a racist attack that followed last weekend’s Budapest Pride has been launched against unidentified suspects who, as a group, committed violence against members of a community, police said on its website on Tuesday." See also: Attack by alleged neo-Nazis follows Pride March

HUNGARY: Refugee centre meets local resistance (Politics.hu): "A new refugee centre will open near Vámosszabadi in Gyor county in August, despite intense local opposition, Immigration and Citizenship Office head Zsuzsanna Végh confirmed yesterday"

IRELAND: High Court refuses arrest warrant for Snowden (The Journal): "A High Court judge in Ireland has said he is refusing an application by the United States of America for a provisional arrest warrant for Edward Snowden." See also: High Court refuses provisional arrest warrant for Edward Snowden: What next? (Human Rights in Ireland)

IRELAND: Minister refuses to drop jail penalty from bill (Irish Independent): "Health Minister James Reilly has insisted that the courts will not impose the maximum 14-year sentence on a pregnant woman who obtains a termination – as he rejected calls to drop the punishment from the new abortion bill"

IRELAND: NUJ slam ‘arrogant’ Noonan (Irish Independent): "The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has lashed out at remarks by Finance Minister Michael Noonan who claimed that investigating the Anglo tapes was “mucking around in Garda business”."

IRELAND: Prison punishments 'out of line' (Irish Independent): "Punishments in Irish jails are totally out of line with international norms, the prisons inspector has warned"

IRELAND: Scuffles break out during bank protest (Irish Independent): "Scuffles broke out between gardai and a small number of dissident Republican protesters who were among several thousand people demonstrating outside the Dail to demand criminal sanctions for former Anglo Irish bankers"

IRELAND: Supreme Court backs 'three strikes' deal to fight illegal downloading (Irish Independent)

IRELAND: Watchdog says gardai still unwilling to co-operate (Irish Independent): "Gardai are routinely unwilling to co-operate with investigations by the Garda Ombudsman, even into minor matters such as bad manners or discourtesy."

Italy intercepts migrant boat from Syria (The Local): "Another migrant boat carrying around 100 people was intercepted by the Italian coast guard today and taken to the port of Syracuse in Sicily." See also: Italy rescues 400 migrants off Lampedusa and Letta demands Libya action on boat migrants

Italy says embassy in U.S. not spied upon (Gazzetta del Sud): "Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino told parliament on Thursday that it appeared that the Italian embassy in the US was not being spied upon. "Our secret services have not unearthed elements of espionage in our embassy (in the US)," said Bonino"

Italy's juvenile prison population drops by 1/3 from 1988 (Gazzetta del Sud)

ITALY: All safe from rescued immigrant boat off Lampedusa (Gazzetta del Sud): "The Italian Navy said on Wednesday that all of the migrants who crossed the Mediterranean to reach Italy are safe after earlier reports that they feared several of the passengers had died during the journey." See also: New wave of migrants reach Lampedusa's shores

ITALY: Former police chief poised to head State defence contractor (Gazzetta del Sud): "Former police chief Gianni De Gennaro is expected to be named the new CEO of the State-controlled Italian defence and aerospace contractor Finmeccanica at a board meeting on Thursday"

ITALY: Kurdish asylum seeker killed in detention center in Bari (Gazzetta del Sud): "A 26-year-old Kurdish asylum seeker was killed overnight Tuesday in a detention center for immigrants in the southern city of Bari after a fight broke out among detainees, authorities said." See: Two Afghans held in migrant centre death

Kosovo parliament to debate controversial amnesty law (Balkan Insight): "An amended version of a proposed amnesty law aimed at helping normalise relations with Serbia has been sent back to parliament after the original version was voted down." See also: Kosovo draft amnesty law falls short of votes

MACEDONIA: Detained Macedonian journalist 'badly treated' in jail (Balkan Insight): "Detained Macedonian investigative journalist Tomislav Kezarovski has complained to the country’s ombudsman, alleging that he has been ill-treated in Skopje’s Shutka prison"

MACEDONIA: Outrage as Macedonian writer dubbed 'policy spy' (Balkan Insight): "A state commission’s decision to classify one of Macedonia’s best-known writers, the late Slavko Janevski, as a secret police informer, has sparked an outcry from authors and academics"

Malta in strong reaction to CoE report on treatment of migrants (Times of Malta): "The Maltese government has accused the Council of Europe of behaving in Malta’s regard “as a collection of bodies acting and reacting at the beck and call of some NGOs” and focusing exclusively on the problem of illegal immigration in reports by the Commissioner of Human Rights, the European Commission on Racial Intolerance (ECRI) and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture." See: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Malta (Council of Europe) and CoE's report on torture passed on to prison's reform board (Times of Malta)

MALTA: 600 irregular migrants arrive in Malta in first six months - UNHCR (Times of Malta); see also AFM intercepts 102 migrants; craft being monitored out at sea (Malta Independent)

MALTA: Muscat warns EU that Malta expects solidarity on immigration (Malta Independent): "The rescue of nearly 300 people who had left Libya for Europe has prompted Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to insist that Malta expects EU solidarity on immigration – and that it is ready to take all the necessary steps to be heard." See also: Sweden can have our migrants, Muscat suggests (Malta Independent); Malta grateful for Swiss compassion on irregular migration (Times of Malta) and Malta pleads for help after migrants arrive (BBC News)

MALTA: PN seeks higher penalties for those who assault public officers (Times of Malta): "The Nationalist Party has proposed through a motion in parliament that the penalties for people convicted of assault or vilification of public officers should be raised"

MALTA: Returning migrants to Libya 'could threaten their lives' - NGOs (Times of Malta): "Returning irregular migrants to Libya or failing to rescue them from sinking boats would put them at serious risk of inhuman and degrading treatment and could threaten their very lives, nine non-governmental organisations said in a statement." See: Migrants’ push-back not an option - UNHCR and MEP accuses PM of far right sentiments and fanning racism (Malta Independent)

MALTA: 'Security Services can be trusted', Opposition leader says (Malta Independent): "Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said that he was given assurances by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on the Security Services operations, emphasising that the Security Service was and is still is one to have faith in." See also: Secret service operations 'opaque' - Sant

MALTA: Whistleblower Act to boost Attorney General’s powers (Malta Independent): " The Attorney General will call the shots to whether an informer emerges scot-free, is given immunity or faces a penalty or jail sentence, or granted a change in identity, after consulting with the Commissioner of Police and the Chief Justice, according to Parliamentary Secretary for Justice Owen Bonnici"

Montenegro urged to depoliticise judiciary (Balkan Insight): "The Montenegrin government needs to implement reforms quickly to free the country’s judiciary from political influence, said the German ambassador to Podgorica"

NETHERLANDS: Dutch government expresses 'deep regret' over slavery (Dutch News): "Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher has expressed the government's 'deep regret' at the Dutch slave trade at a ceremony to mark 150 years since the Netherlands banned slavery in its former colonies"

NETHERLANDS: Geert Wilders spreads his European wings, talks to Lega Nord (Dutch News): "Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration PVV, is hoping to work together with Swedish and Italian nationalist parties as well as Belgium's Vlaams Belang and the Front National in France, Nos television reports"

NETHERLANDS: MPs back calls for an inquiry into Dutch security service use of Prism (Dutch News): "MPs from the ruling coalition have backed demands for an inquiry into the involvement of the Dutch security services in the Prism internet tapping scandal"

NETHERLANDS: Tour de France commentator apologises for saying 'little negro' (Dutch News): "A Dutch former professional cycle racer and current Nos commentator on the Tour de France has apologised for calling rider Kévin Reza a ‘little negro’ and saying he is surprised he can ride a bike"

NORTHERN IRELAND: Controversial 'face down restraint' used in Northern Ireland's mental health facilities (The Detail)

NORTHERN IRELAND: Series of critical reports leave future of Historical Enquiries Team in doubt (The Detail): "A series of critical reports into the independence of the Historical Enquiries Team has left serious questions marks over the future of the police investigation unit which was supposed to bring closure to families who had suffered Troubles-related deaths." See also: HET acting illegally in approach to security force member connected killings (The Detail) and ‘No confidence’ in leadership of PSNI unit reviewing unsolved Troubles murders (The Journal)

POLAND: TV station fined after Polish flag-in-dog-mess stunt (The News): " Poland's Supreme Court upheld an appeal court verdict on Tuesday against a TV station that broadcast a miniature Polish flag being placed in a dog's excrement"

Russia and Ukraine 'colluding in illegal rendition' (BBC News): "Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet states are colluding in an illegal rendition programme, a new report from Amnesty International has claimed." See: Full report: Return to torture: Extradition, forcible returns and removals to Central Asia (pdf)

SERBIA: Media claim Serbian PM's advisor had crime links (Balkan Insight): "Ivica Toncev, an advisor to Serbian premier Ivica Dacic, maintained contacts with several high-profile criminals over a period of years, local media have alleged"

SWITZERLAND: Deportation flights could be improved, says report (swissinfo.ch): "The National Commission for the Prevention of Torture (NCPT) has given “lukewarm” marks to the 31 special deportation flights, carrying 159 foreigners, which it accompanied between July 2012 and April 2013"

Think US snooping is bad? Try Italy, India or…Canada (Quartz): "Just because something is legal doesn’t necessarily make it a good thing. So far, legality is the main rationale US officials have used to defend the government’s PRISM spying program. It’s all perfectly legal, approved by Congress and the courts. But a more potent argument might be to compare PRISM with the spying programs of other countries. Compared to the data-mining that goes on elsewhere, US intelligence agencies may be relatively constrained"

Turkish police disperse Gezi Park protesters (BBC News): "Turkish police have fired tear gas and water cannon at people trying to enter an Istanbul park that was the focus of last month's anti-government protests." See also: Turkish court rules against Taksim Square development and Turks question police use of force during protests

UK: Ecuador asks UK for help on embassy bug (BBC News): "Ecuador has asked the UK to help an investigation over alleged spying at its embassy in London where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is living"

UK: Killers' life terms 'breach their human rights' (BBC News): "The European Court of Human Rights has ruled the whole life tariffs given to murderer Jeremy Bamber and two other killers breached their human rights." See: Judgment: Case of Vintner and others v. the United Kingdom (ECHR)

UK: Misuse of stop and search powers risks undermining police, says watchdog (The Guardian): "The misuse of "intrusive and contentious" stop and search powers is threatening to undermine the legitimacy of the police, an official watchdog has warned." Full report: Stop and search powers: Are the police using them effectively and fairly? (pdf)

UK: Police investigate claims that officer attacked man after he was Tasered (The Guardian): "Police are investigating video footage that is said to show an officer kicking a man moments after he was shot with a Taser gun"

UK: Theresa May to pull UK out of Europol despite Madeleine McCann leads (The Guardian): "The home secretary, Theresa May, is expected to ignore private warnings from senior police officers and abandon the UK's membership of a European cross-border crime agency which is advising the government on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann." See also: Britain to keep European arrest warrant but try to reform it

UK: Young Afghans in the UK: deportations in the dead of night to a war-zone (NCADC Blog): "Each year around 400 children forced by war to leave their families and homes in Afghanistan seek sanctuary in the UK. Lisa Matthews writes for Young People Seeking Safety Week on the young adults who, having rebuilt their lives, are now at threat of return"


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