Russia named independent news outlet Meduza an “undesirable” organisation, effectively banning its work in the country. Meduza has the biggest audience of any independent media source, attracting tens of millions of readers to its site every month.
Source: The Bell
Hungary is perceived as having the worst public sector corruption record in the EU, according to Transparency International’s latest report. With scores ranging from 42 to 46 out of 100, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania are far behind the EU’s Scandinavian top three, with Denmark crowned as best in class (90), followed by Finland (87) and Sweden (83), in the anti-corruption NGO’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions index.
The European Commission has validated a petition against animal experiments after more than a million signatures were collected across 22 EU countries. The petition, titled "Save Cruelty-Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without Animal Testing ", has become the ninth most successful European Citizens Initiative. Although the EU has a ban on cosmetic animal testing, the petition states that "the promise has been broken", adding that many "authorities still demand animal tests on ingredients used in cosmetics."
Source: The Brussels Times
With reports of racist incidents on the rise in France and elsewhere in Europe since 2018, a French ministerial delegation is set to publish a new National Plan against Racism and Anti-Semitism. In France in 2021, some 12,500 offences of a ‘racist, xenophobic or anti-religious nature’ were officially recorded. The French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights described the situation as “alarming”.
The European Commission presented "a new operation strategy" to increase the return of irregular migrants. Only 21% of migrants who irregularly enter the European Union go back to their countries of origin, even if they receive a negative decision on their asylum request by a member state, according to the Commission. Ylva Johansson, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, said that the proposals aim to boost these numbers.
Portugal's public prosecutors asked the constitutional court to declare unconstitutional a law that criminalises with a fine or jail time those who mistreat their pets. According to public prosecutors, the court has already made decisions that pointed to the alleged unconstitutionality of the legislation. After being criticised for not speaking up about the issue, Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said in a statement that a law punishing those who mistreat animals was an "indisputable requirement".
The French government is taking legal action over an “environmental nightmare” caused by waves of tiny plastic beads washing up on the coast of Brittany. The white pellets the size of grains of rice, nicknamed “mermaids’ tears”, have been appearing on beaches in France and Spain for the last year. They are believed to have come from shipping containers lost in the Atlantic Ocean.
The French arm of the Russian state-owned RT television network said it was shutting down after authorities used European Union sanctions to freeze its bank accounts. Late last February, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, the EU said it would ban Russia Today on the grounds it had been spreading disinformation about the war. RT France appealed the ban but lost.
After Sinti and Roma, Muslims are the least accepted minorities in Germany, the latest situation report of the government’s Anti-Racism Commissioner concluded. Muslim women who wear headscarves are particularly affected by discrimination and exclusion. But not everyone in the governing coalition is in favour of reforming anti-discrimination laws.
Trumped-up charges have been dropped against migrant rights defenders Sean Binder, Sara Mardini, Nassos Karakitsos and others for assisting migrants to safely cross to Lesvos island as part of humanitarian work. They were accused of “people smuggling”, “money laundering”, “espionage” and “membership in a criminal organisation”.
Source: Frontline Defenders
The National Historical Heritage Protection Foundation, an organization whose founders include Russian State Duma First Deputy Speaker Ivan Melnikov, has proposed amending Russia’s Criminal Code to allow the state to seize the property of people and entities who authorities have dubbed “foreign agents.”
The Polish parliament voted through a bill that would roll back some of the country’s controversial judicial reforms in a bid to unlock EU cash — frozen over worries in Brussels that the country is out of step with the bloc’s democratic rules. But the divisive political fight over the measure isn’t over. The legislation would shift judicial disciplinary matters from the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, seen as being under the government’s influence, to the Supreme Administrative Court that is viewed as being more independent.