Round-up of news stories from across the EU 16.9.16

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BALKANS: Conference to Strengthen Police Cooperation in the Balkans Held in Skopje (European External Action Service, link):


"Representatives of four Western Balkans police services participated at a regional conference that was held today in Skopje.

The Conference, hosted by the Mitko Chavkov, Police Director of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and facilitated by the EULEX mission, was organized to intensify the cooperation and harmonise further actions related terrorism and organized crime in the Balkans. The Police Directors from Albania, Kosovo, Serbia and FYROM, accompanied by their respective Directors of Investigations, participated in the Conference."

Changes to INTERPOL refugee policy offer protection for Tajikistani activist (Fair Trials, link):

"By the time Sulaman Davlatov was arrested in early 2015 he had fled Tajikistan due to political persecution. Acting on an INTERPOL Red Notice, Davlatov was detained by Finnish authorities on 20 February. He was accused of membership to Group 24...

Despite Tajikistan being heavily suspected of INTERPOL abuse, the Red Notice meant that Davlatov was held in detention for a month without charge, and without any evidence being presented for the extremism charge.This serves to demonstrate the ongoing need for reforms that guard INTERPOL systems from abuse.

Since his release Davlatov applied for asylum in Lithuania. Fabio Belafatti, working on his case, produced a document which assessed the judicial system in Tajikistan and gave extensive information on the targeting of Group 24 members. This document succeeded in convincing Lithuanian authorities that he is at risk if returned and he was granted asylum."

FRANCE: French PM: More terror attacks coming, 15,000 under surveillance (Ars Technica, link):

"France must expect "new attacks" by terrorists, with more "innocent victims," the French prime minister Manuel Valls warned yesterday when he spoke on Europe 1 radio. He also revealed that French police are monitoring 15,000 people who are "in a process of radicalisation.""

HUNGARY: Antisemitic attack in Hungary — Holocaust memorial vandalised (Hungarian Free Press, link):

"The Living Memorial, a grassroots monument in Budapest’s Liberty Square, in memory to the 600,000 victims of the Holocaust in Hungary, was vandalised this weekend, shortly after the neo-Nazi website published an article threatening to destroy the monument. Photographs displayed at the site were torn and other items of remembrance added to the Living Memorial by survivors and descendants of survivors were shattered or removed."

SWITZERLAND: Swiss court overrules conviction of Turkish politician over genocide denial trial (Daily Sabah, link):

"The Supreme Court of Switzerland has overruled its judgment of Dogu Perinçek, a prominent Turkish politician and leader of the Vatan Party, over his conviction for denial of the Armenian genocide in 2005 in Switzerland. The decision came after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in favor of Perinçek in October 2015, denying allegations of racial discrimination and evaluating his comments about the 1915 event surrounding Armenians within the framework of "freedom of speech."

The court also reversed his judicial fine and ruled that he will receive compensation in the form of 2,500 Swiss Francs ($2,560) from the Federal government and Switzerland-Armenia Association."

UK: Immigration detention: Dungavel's closure: more questions than answers (AVID, link):

"The Government has announced plans to close Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre (IRC), in Lanarkshire, Scotland. Dungavel is currently Scotland’s only detention centre and holds 249 men and women. It is proposed that this facility will close at the end of 2017, to be replaced by a 51 person ‘short term holding facility’ at Glasgow Airport.

A reduction in the use of detention was promised as part of the Government’s commitment to detention reform, and the closure of Dungavel within that has been broadly welcomed by campaigners and NGOs.

While we welcome any steps to reduce detention, AVID is concerned that this closure, coupled with the opening of a new facility, does not go far enough to meet the commitments made. For just as this closure is announced, expansions of the two detention centres at Gatwick airport are already underway, increasing those purpose built facilities by 100 beds. Once the new facility at Glasgow Airport is opened, Dungavel’s closure will in fact represent a net reduction of less than 100 bed spaces. A drop in the ocean, in the context of a detention estate of over 3,300."

UK: New immigration detention policy for ‘adults at risk’ needs urgent review (The Guardian, link):

"Leading organisations have voiced concerns that the new policy may lead to a worsening of protection for vulnerable people in detention. The policy limits the definition of torture, meaning that those tortured at the hands of Isis, Boko Haram and others may no longer be included. The policy increases the burden of evidence on vulnerable people and balances vulnerability against a wider range of other factors. We fear this will lead to more vulnerable people being detained for longer.

The guidance was laid before parliament the day before summer recess and will come into effect one week after recess, meaning there has been no opportunity for meaningful debate. Considering the potential for significant harm to vulnerable detainees, we call for an urgent review before this policy is implemented."

UK: Met police ignore Muslim officers' ‘extremist views’ to avoid ‘Islamophobia’ accusations, claims former sergeant (The Independent, link):

"A former counter-terrorism officer has claimed the Metropolitan Police ignored evidence of extremism among its officers for fear of being labelled “Islamophobic”.

Javaria Saeed, a practising Muslim, said she had complained to her bosses after hearing a fellow Muslim officer say FGM should not be criminalised because it was a “clean and honourable practice”.

She said the same officer also said female Muslim victims of domestic violence should go to local Sharia courts rather than the police for help except in the “serious violent cases”.

But when she raised her concerns with managers they refused to take action because they were afraid of appearing racist."

UK: Undercover officer infiltrated pro-Isis Britons heading for Syria, court told (The Guardian, link):

"An undercover officer infiltrated a group of Islamic State supporters attempting to smuggle themselves out of the UK to Syria in the back of a lorry, an Old Bailey jury has been told.

Anas Abdalla, 26, from Acocks Green, Birmingham, was discovered in an empty space inside a cargo trailer at Dover port in April 2015 in the company of three other men.

One of the others, Gabriel Rasmus, 29, from Lozells, Birmingham, has already pleaded guilty, the court heard, to preparing acts of terrorism, the same offence under section 5(1) of the 2006 Terrorism Act with which Abdalla is charged."

UK: We Have Never Done Enough To Provide Adequate Mental Health Services In Our Prisons (Huffington Post, link):

"This Saturday is World Suicide Prevention Day, when we reflect on what needs to be done to prevent suicide. The World Health Organisation (WHO) believes that 800,000 people take their own lives each year across the globe. That’s the equivalent of the population of Leeds dying a tragic and preventable death every year - one person every 40 seconds. It is a terrible waste of precious life, and leaves a devastating legacy for families, friends and loved ones.

In the UK, suicide remains the biggest killer of young men. There is a clear link between chronic mental health conditions and preventable suicide, and yet so often the mental health system fails to intervene in time.

One aspect of this ongoing tragedy that deserves attention is the growing number of suicides in our prisons."

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