Nazi memorabilia may no longer be auctioned on Yahoo Yahoo, the internet portal, says it will ban the sale of Nazi memorabilia from its auction sites, beginning from next week. A Yahoo spokesman said the company had decided that it did not want to profit from items that promoted or glorified hatred. He denied that the move was in response to a court ruling in France that Yahoo must prevent internet users there from accessing its websites that sell such material. The sale of Nazi memorabilia is illegal in France. Yahoo said it would also ban the sale of items that promoted hate groups, such as the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan. From 10 January, Yahoo will screen items before they are listed for sale in its online auctions. Software programmes will weed out any item that appears to violate the new policy, but users will be able to appeal against bans. Although there would be some grey areas under the new policy, a Yahoo spokesman said that items sold recently, such a watercolour painted by Adolf Hitler and a recruiting poster for the SS, would now be banned. The list of banned items at Yahoo auctions also includes cigarettes, live animals and used underwear. Last year, two French groups sued Yahoo, accusing it of breaking French laws which forbid the display or sale of racist material. In November, a French judge ruled that Yahoo must prevent French users from taking part in auctions of such items, or face fines of $13,000 a day. Yahoo then appealed to a US court against the decision, saying that France did not have jurisdiction in the case. The company said it would continue its legal appeals against the French ruling, despite its latest move. Yahoo said that the ruling would have a "significant chilling effect on the freedom of expression for users of Yahoo and other US-based ISPs". "The case continues because there's an important issue at stake," said Michael Traynor, one of Yahoo's lawyers. "It's one thing to do something voluntarily, but it's another to be ordered to be ordered to do something." He added that Yahoo barred the Nazi sales because "the company shared a general concern about hate speech". "But the company also is concerned about freedom of speech, which is why we will continue to fight the French court's order," said Mr Traynor. Yahoo have also argued that it was technically impossible for it to prevent users from one country accessing material on its site. eBay, another online auction service, bans hate materials only countries where their sale is illegal, such as France, Germany, Austria and Italy. Sellers may not deliver such items there, and buyers from those countries may not bid for them.

The Dome was a high profile Millennium project The Millennium Commission has denied that racism was behind a recent decision to withdraw the offer of a £10m grant to build a multi-cultural centre in London. The Asha Centre in Harrow, north west London, was planned as a celebration of ethnic minorities in Britain and had the backing of leaders from the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. The grant was withdrawn following the failure of the organisers of the centre to raise another £10m. In a letter to the Times newspaper, the director of the Millennium Commission, Mike O'Connor, rejected the suggestion that asking ethnic minority groups to provide half the cash for a project was unfair. "Deprived communities, from ethnic minority or majority background, may have more difficulty than others in raising matching funding. "To accuse the commission of racism on this basis stretches the important concept of institutional racism to breaking point," he said. A trustee of the Asha centre, Thomas Chan, said he was disappointed by the commission's change of heart. He said it was harder for ethnic minority groups to raise matching funding but they could have come up with the money if they had been given more time. One of the organisers of another failed bid has voiced his support for Thomas Chan's point of view. Alex Pascall, a former organiser of the Notting Hill carnival, was offered just under £9m by the Millennium Commission to set up a African-Caribbean heritage centre in London. But Mr Pascall says the offer was withdrawn after disagreements on a number of issues. He is unhappy with the way the commission deals with ethnic minority applicants. "It has not given the black community anything for what we have contributed here. "Matching funds is not easy for any black project especially being offered money so late in the day, " he said. He said that compared to the money spent on the Millennium Dome ethnic minority groups had received a pittance. "Out of £2bn we have not even got 1%, that's nonsense," he said. So far the Millennium Commission has given around £17m out of a £1.8bn earmarked for Millennium projects to ethnic minority groups. But a spokeswoman for the Millennium Commission, Morag Wood, said they were actively encouraging ethnic minority applicants and a total of £37m had now been ring-fenced for them. She said that in addition to the grants already awarded a further £600,000 had been given in development grants to ensure ethnic minority groups had the necessary funding to present detailed proposals to the commission.

A second man is being questioned by police after a serious race attack on a Turkish asylum seeker. Cumali Sinangili, 42, remains in a critical condition after being assaulted in a street in Rotherhithe, south-east London, on Christmas Eve. He is suffering from serious head injuries after being stabbed in the eye and repeatedly punched. Police have not said if he is conscious. His wife Kadinia and their teenage daughter flew from a village 200 miles south of Turkey's capital Ankara to be at his bedside. Police are questioning a 22-year-old Southwark man on Wednesday following his arrest the day before. A 19-year-old man from Bermondsey is on police bail after voluntarily visiting a south London police station on New Year's Day. Police have renewed their appeal for information over the "unprovoked and horrific attack" in a road near the Blue Anchor pub at 11.15 GMT on 24 December. Police found the injured man when they were called to a fight that erupted outside the pub after three white men in their 20s were thrown out for unruly behaviour. A small Swiss army knife was found beneath Mr Sinangili's unconscious body. Detective Inspector Jonathan Tottman said: "It was really a gut-wrenching attack where a man was thrown to the ground and continually punched." Mr Sinangili, who spoke no English and had been in Britain for two years, was described by other members of the Turkish community as a "quiet character and certainly would not have provoked this sort of incident", Mr Tottman said. Police said Mr Sinangili had been visiting a friend and was on his way to another friend's home when he was assaulted.

The burden of legal actions plaguing software giant Microsoft is to increase with the filing of a lawsuit accusing the firm of racial discrimination. Seven current and former Microsoft employees are seeking $5bn in compensation claiming discrimination in evaluations, promotions, wrongful termination and retaliation, their lawyers said. The class action lawsuit, which will be outlined in greater detail at a press conference later on Wednesday, is to be served against both Microsoft and its chairman and figurehead Bill Gates, the attorneys said. A statement from the lawyers said that of 21,429 staff employed by Microsoft in 1999, 2.6% were African-American. Of the firm's 5,155 managers, 1.6% were African-American. Microsoft, while declining to comment in detail on the case, defended its commitment to diversity. While African-Americans make up 2.7% of the workforce, minorities as a whole account for 22.7%, spokesman Dean Katz said. "Microsoft does not tolerate discrimination in any of its employment practices," Mr Katz said. "We are committed to treating all of our employees fairly. We take these kinds of issues very seriously."
The action follows a suit filed against Microsoft in October by a black woman alleging racial and gender bias. The case is still pending. The firm is also fighting a ruling by a federal judge last June that the company had abused a monopoly position in the computer market, and should be broken up. The appeal against the judgement, which has spawned a series of class action suits from consumers, is expected to take years to reach a conclusion. Microsoft last month agreed to pay $97m to thousands of long-term workers who were hired as temporary staff, and denied benefits given to permanent employees. The lawsuit, the so-called 'permatemp' case, was filed in 1992. In the latest lawsuit, the seven plaintiffs are being represented by Florida based law firm Gary, Williams, Parenti, Finney, Lewis, McManus, Watson and Sperando.

Around thirty Antennes scolaires mobiles or mobile schools and about 40 teachers divided into a network covering 14 French "départments" (counties) are today serving more than 3,500 travelling children ­ the children of gypsies who move about and live in caravans. The outpost teachers in these mobile schools belong to the educational teams of their home establishments and are therefore paid by the national education service. On the ground they meet the children regularly in their various halts to give them basic instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, which will allow as many of them as possible to be admitted to the educational establishmentnearest to them and most suited to their level of attainment. The mobile schools are financed by public and private funds and the running costs are met, in whole or in part, by the teachers' home establishment and/or by public bodies such as town halls, general councils, county health and social security offices among others. In each county the gypsies who wish their children to benefit from mobile schools have to apply to the education inspectorate. The ASET - Aide à la scolarisation des enfants tsiganes (Gypsy children's Educational Support) which was involved at the beginning of mobile schools is recognised as the National Association of Youth and Popular Education by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
©The Griot

Just two months ago, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and other refugees from Central America were ecstatic: President Bill Clinton had threatened to veto a final budget deal unless more than a million immigrants - including them - were allowed a chance at becoming legal residents. But after elections that favored Republicans, and amid fierce Republican opposition, Mr. Clinton agreed to an immigration package that helps just over half as many. Most come from Mexico, India and other populous countries. But those from Central America are largely out of luck, victims of an ideological struggle dating from the Cold War. In the end, about 400,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, plus 50,000 from Haiti and Liberia, find themselves with little chance of becoming legal U.S. residents, let alone citizens. And many are likely to face new threats of deportation after more than a decade of living in the United States. The outcome has enraged immigrant advocates. Some members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus accused Mr. Clinton of using them to curry Democratic favor among Latino voters, only to abandon them after Election Day. "Most of these people came here at a time of extraordinary strife in Central America that we had a big hand in," said Angela Kelley, deputy director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigration group. "The Central Americans have the strongest case for relief, and yet they got absolutely nothing. The politics in this just stink." Mr. Clinton proposed a bill last year easing the way to legal residency for more than a million immigrants. But Republican congressional leaders stood firm against bringing Central Americans, Haitians and Liberians into parity with Nicaraguans and Cubans.
©International Herald Tribune

Unidentified vandals smashed windows and attacked staff at a Jewish museum in Bucharest, after posing as interested visitors, police said Friday. The two men asked to see the "soap from Auschwitz" at the Museum of Jewish History in the Romanian capital on Thursday, before beating up a caretaker and an elderly woman who helped as a guide, a spokesman said. The attackers, in their 30s, then broke a number of windows and chairs, before fleeing.
New Romanian President Ion Iliescu condemned the attack in a statement, calling it an "act of vandalism which attacks the memory and the identify of Romania's Jews." He urged the courts to "make an example in punishing" those responsible, and pledged his "full support and determination to fight extremist, xenophobic and antisemitic attacks, which are unacceptable in a democratic society." Iliescu took office this month after defeating far-righter Corneliu Vadim Tudor, whose Romania Mare (PRM) party surged to second place in legislative elections last month. More than 30 percent of Romanians voted for Tudor, who is notorious for his xenophobic comments, and runs a publication which routinely lambasts minorities, notably gypsies and Jews. Romania's Jewish community numbers 14,000, compared with 800,000 before World War II.
©Romania Today

A Greek entrepreneur in Germany was assaulted by members of the neo-Nazi organization NPD in Baden Wuerttemberg, suffering massive injuries and requiring hospitalization. The incident, which occurred on November 10, has alarmed Germany's Greek community whose members have expressed their concern over such xenophobic acts and call on the German government to take heightened measures to combat these forms of violence. Attacks against immigrants in Germany have been growing at an alarming rate in recent years.
©HRI Greece

The Nazis did the world a service by looting art works in Europe during the Second World War, according to the director of a Canadian gallery, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported Thursday. "The greater good of mankind might have been served inadvertently by the Nazis by virtue of the fact that, possibly, if some of these works had been left in homes in Amsterdam and God knows where, they'd have been bombed and the works might have been destroyed," said Ian Lumsden, director of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Jack Silverstone, executive vice president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, called the remarks "an incredibly unacceptable comment by anyone who would think, in any way, that looting, theft and murder would be a route to saving or popularizing art."
©International Herald Tribune

The Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions (LO) has been criticized for doing too little for workers with an immigrant background, because many LO members are critical to the immigrant workforce. This claimed in a study by researcher Jon Rokstad from the Institute for Social Research, financed by the Ministry for Local Government and Regional Development. In his report, Rokstad, says that the immigrant workers present problems for LO, because many are forced to accept below-tarrif pay, and thus undermine LO's work to maintain salary conditions and union benefits. He asks LO to visualize the changes that have take place in the make-up of the work force. LO-Secretary Liv Undheim admits to NRK Radio that LO has not enough for the immigrant workers on the labour market, and promises to do better. At some companies, the immigrant workers are so dissatified with the local LO-representatives that they deal with their problems through their own channels, according to NRK Radio.
©Norway Post

French rap singer Stomy Bugsy was Wednesday fined 1,000 francs (136 dollars) by a court in this eastern city for calling far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen an ass during a clash on board a flight from Paris to Strasbourg.
Two fellow musicians were also fined 1,000 francs each, the rapper's attorney Dominique Tricaud said.
The three men were in addition ordered to pay a total 2,500 francs (342 dollars) in damages and interest to Le Pen, leader of the National Front.
Le Pen's attorney had sought 50,000 francs (6,849 dollars) in damages.
Tricaud argued before the court that Le Pen's complaint was unfounded considering his party's stand toward Jews, black people and immigrants. "Mr. Le Pen should not be surprised to see one of his victims hold his head up high when he meets him," Tricaud said. "There is no insult when there is provocation."
The three musicians fined were all black. Le Pen at the time of the clash was travelling to Strasbourg for a committee hearing on his being stripped of his European Parliament seat, a punishment for assaulting a woman Socialist candidate during the 1997 general election. At the height of his influence, Le Pen won 15 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections in 1995 despite shocking mainstream opinion with his anti-immigrant, nationalist views.
Most famously he once dismissed the World War II Nazi gas chambers as a "detail of history" and called for four million immigrants to be expelled from France.
© The Tocqueville Connection

One man drowned and two other people were missing Thursday after smugglers forced would-be immigrants out of a dinghy and into rough waters off Italy's southern Adriatic coast.
Francesco Cucinelli, a border police official in Otranto, said the missing man and woman were believed dead.
They were among a group of about 45 Iraqi Kurds who had departed from Vlora, Albania. The smugglers forced them overboard about 700 feet off the Italian shore, beating those who refused to jump, Cucinelli said.
Such smugglers often force passengers out before reaching land so they can make a fast getaway.
The other 42 refugees were rescued and taken to shelters to get warm. Their cases will now be studied by immigration officials, and those not eligible to stay will be ordered out of Italy.
© Associated Press

By Nuala Haughey The "punitive" new refugee law ignores basic human rights concerns and denies fundamental legal safeguards to asylum seekers, the Irish section of Amnesty International says.
Ms Ursula Fraser, the organisation's refugee officer, said large chunks of international human rights law were "ruthlessly ignored" in the Refugee Act, which became law a month ago.
Ms Fraser was speaking yesterday at the launch of a booklet she wrote on asylum law and policy. She said it explained the "difficult and unjust obstacle course someone seeking asylum must overcome."
While Amnesty welcomed the new statutory framework introduced in the Refugee Act, it had "a lot of reservations" about how it might work in practice, she said. Asylum-seekers are people who seek State protection as refugees on the grounds that they are fleeing persecution in another country. If granted refugee status, they are entitled to live and work in Ireland. If refused, they face deportation.
Ms Fraser was particularly critical of the new powers in the Act to detain asylum-seekers in Garda stations, which was worrying and "wholly inappropriate". She also highlighted Amnesty's concerns at accelerated procedures in the Act for processing asylum claims. Amnesty fears that asylum-seekers could be returned to countries where they may be in danger. The Act "ignores basic human rights concerns and denies asylum applicants fundamental legal safeguards," she said.
The publication, Asylum Law and Policy in Ireland - A Critical Guide, states that the Act "endangers people fleeing torture and death, discriminates against those needing asylum, allows for their detention when they have committed no crime, and pushes through applications without proper legal process." The director of Amnesty International's Irish section, Ms Mary Lawlor, said the line has been blurred in Ireland between asylum-seekers and economic migrants seeking a better life.
"The only way to determine who is a refugee is to have a fair procedure."
Ms Lawlor highlighted the case of a teenage Somali asylum-seeker living in Clonakilty, Co Cork, who witnessed his parents being tortured and killed. "You know that he goes down the street and people think, `Oh, a black sponger', and no one knows the pain he has gone through."
She said the new booklet would be a practical tool for anyone interested in asylum-seekers or refugees. It is available from Amnesty International's Dublin office for £5.
© The Irish Times

Bertlesmann and Napster have pledged to work closely with German authorities to weed out right-wing extremists from using the online music-sharing service.
The Constitutional Protection Office, which enforces German anti-racism laws, says that the popularity of the free music exchange service has made it far easier for groups to disseminate music with Nazi lyrics worldwide.
Bertlesmann - which shocked its mainstream rivals by forging an alliance with the beleaguered file-sharing service just a matter of weeks ago - has promised co-operation. Andreas Schmidt of Bertlesmann's e-commerce subsidiary told that anyone using Napster to incite violence was violating of the company's terms and conditions.
But he indicated that stemming the flow of such content would be highly problematic, owing to the fact that Napster is merely the conduit for content stored on the computers of its 40 million users.
© Ananova

A man who helped to save dozens of shoppers from a racist nail bomb attack last year has been charged with racial harassment and threatening to kill a black woman. George Jones dragged the bomb planted by psychopath David Copeland to a safer place moments before it exploded in Brixton's Electric Avenue in London. Jones, from Brockley, south east London, will appear before Woolwich Magistrates, on Friday.
He was arrested following an incident involving a neighbour earlier this year.
He has been charged with racially aggravated harassment, threats to kill and two charges of affray. Jones was among 50 people injured in the blast in April last year and lost two toes.
He pulled out one of the nails embedded in his leg with a pair of pliers before paramedics arrived.
The Brixton bombing was the first of three in April last year that caused a wave of panic in London. All were carried out by Copeland, a racist loner, who was sentenced to six terms of life imprisonment in June this year.
© Ananova

A New Zealand university has apologised to the Jewish community after a graduate was granted a master's degree for his thesis asking whether the Holocaust really happened.
Dr Joel Hayward's 1993 MA thesis, The Fate of the Jews in Germand Hands, questioned whether there was an official Nazi policy to exterminate Jews and whether gas chambers existed.
It also suggested that far fewer than six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis.
Jewish groups had called on the university to revoke the degree awarded to Dr Hayward, who is now a senior lecturer in defence and strategic studies at Massey University on New Zealand's North Island, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
An independent report commissioned by the University of Canterbury said Dr Hayward should not have been given a first-class degree pass because his thesis was "seriously deficient" and suffered from "poor judgement". Instead, he should have been told to revise and resubmit the thesis.
Canterbury University vice-chancellor Daryl Le Grew said the university took full responsibility for accepting the flawed thesis, and unreservedly apologised to the Jewish community for the hurt it had caused.
He said: "The University of Canterbury does not support Holocaust revisionism and the university does not harbour anti-Semitic feeling." Since writing the thesis, Dr Hayward has issued corrections to his work, which was embargoed for five years, and withdrawn his main conclusions but the thesis appears on a number of Holocaust denial websites.
© Ananova

A legal wrangle over a British gypsy family's right to maintain their traditional lifestyle has been settled out of court.
The family from Featherstone, Staffordshire, claimed a breach of human rights because a local planning authority refused to let them live a "traditional" gypsy life on their own land.
But the agreed £60,000 "friendly settlement" plus £15,000 costs given at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, means the judges will not now rule on whether the Government violated their human rights.
Joseph Vafrey, 60, and his wife Mary, 56, described as "gypsies by birth", bought land in Featherstone on which they intended to live while maintaining their traditional gypsy lifestyle and culture. They claimed they had no choice because planning regulations and the shortage of sites for gypsies in the UK left them no other option.
When they were told they were breaking local planning regulations by failing to comply with normal housing requirements, they took their case to Strasbourg, citing the European Human Rights Convention which guarantee the "right to respect for home, family and private life".
They also claimed there was no effective access to court in the UK to challenge the planning decisions, and that they had been subject to discrimination - also in breach of the Convention, to which Britain is a signatory.
A Human Rights Court spokesman said that the "friendly settlement" halted the legal proceedings but that verdicts in similar cases involving gypsy families and rights of residency in the UK were still due to be delivered in January.
© Ananova

Early Thursday morning the 7th of December two 17-year old nazis attacked and brutally assaulted an 41 year old immigrant subway employee after he closed the station Hallonbergen he was working at. He is now in the hospital with serious injuries that will leave him scarred and disfigured for life. The police were shortly thereafter able to arrest the two nazis by following the blood stains left by their combat boots. They were arrested with the man's wallet in their possession and his blood literally on their hands. The two sounded shouts of "sieg heil" all the way to their cells.
Two days later, on the other side of Stockholm, a different 17 year old nazi, Daniel Wretström, was killed in a fight in the small suburb community of Salem, receiving a knife wound that subsequently led to him bleeding to death.
On Friday evening the 15th of December a quickly assembled anti-racist manifestation in Hallonbergen, called for by the Network Against Racism and the subways workers union, gathered 100 anti-racists to the location of the assault. The subway workers demanded safer working conditions from their employer, the French company Connex.
A day later, Saturday the 16th, in Salem, 800 nazis from all across Sweden gathered for a 3 hour-long manifestation, all under the protection of the Stockholm's police force. So many nazis have not been gathered at one time in Sweden since June 1995. At that time Swedish nazis held a Midsummer white-power concert in the city of Gothenburg. Yesterday's nazi demonstration was also able to gather all the warring factions within the Swedish nazi movement to participate in a single event, something that until now, has been all but impossible for this movement to accomplish.
Interesting in this context is the Swedish state's purported "anti-nazi" stance of the last year and the mission of the police to quickly act upon violent nazi crimes. Obviously, the fact that 800 uniformed nazis are allowed to march freely for three hours through a small suburb while the police recommend local inhabitants to stay inside is not regarded as a nazi provocation or act of violence against the community.
Scheiss Nazis!
Scheiss Bullen!
Scheiss Staat!
AntiFascistisk Aktion-Stockholm

ROME Joerg Haider, the Austrian far-rightist, ended a visit to Italy on Sunday with parting shots at its leaders as "weak" and at immigrants as unwanted, heading home after an audience with Pope John Paul II that sparked a stone throwing incident near St. Peter's.
"I repeat what I believe: Everyone has a right to a dignified existence, but in their own country," Mr. Haider was quoted as saying in a combative interview Sunday in the Rome daily La Repubblica, adding, "Ever more people are thinking as I do."
Italy's center-left government made clear how unwelcome any new Haider visit would be. "Haider's presence in our country is not desirable," Luciano Violante, president of the Chamber of Deputies, said Sunday, faulting what he called Mr. Haider's "rude, discourteous manner" in verbal clashes with Italy's leaders over immigration.
Mr. Haider came to Rome as head of a 250-member Austrian delegation that presented the pope with a Christmas tree on Saturday for St. Peter's Square.
© 2000 The International Herald Tribune

The Immigration and Asylum Bill sparked many protests A charity says new research shows Britain's asylum system is damaging the health of refugees and failing to deal with the consequences.
The report by the King's Fund also says that some asylum seekers are turning to crime or working illegally because of the Bill, which came into force in April.
It says that many asylum seekers arrive in the UK optimistic about the contribution they can make but often find themselves consigned them to the margins of society in substandard accommodation and the target of racist abuse.
David Woodhead, who wrote the report, cited under-funding in health services specific to refugees communities as cause for particular concern.
He said: "Refugees are often very resilient people but they also have high levels of physical and mental health problems because of their past experiences.
"Living in poverty, with severely restricted freedom, makes those problems worse. This is a very unhealthy public policy."
"Vouchers inappropriate"
The system whereby asylum seekers are given vouchers to buy food was also singled out for criticism.
The report says vouchers often make it impossible to buy foods like Halal meat because they can only be spent in supermarkets.
And it says other foods which asylum seekers regard as everyday items are often regarded as 'exotic luxuries' by supermarkets and priced accordingly.
The King's Fund says that there are indications that as a result some asylum seekers have been forced into criminal behaviour, such as shoplifting, or to work illegally, to make ends meet.
The Fund's chief executive, Julia Neuberger, is calling for a rethink of the entire asylum system.
She said: "The voucher system should be abolished at once, and replaced with cash entitlements for all asylum seekers.
"And the NHS should be given more resources to improve refugees' health and give them a better chance of leading an ordinary life if they are given leave to remain in Britain."

Mother's anger over racist stabbing of schoolboy The mother of a 13-year-old Sussex schoolboy left fighting for his life after a suspected racist stabbing, has made an emotional plea to the public to help catch his attackers.
Amanda Herbert, 32, said: "I would just like to appeal to anyone who has any information which can help the police solve what happened to Danny.
"Danny is in hospital fighting for his life. Whoever has done this needs to be caught. I am just so angry and shocked that anyone could have done this to a 13-year-old kid."
She says the family had moved from Dundee in Scotland to Littlehampton, west Sussex, in September this year because they had suffered racial abuse.
Describing Danny's condition at Guy's Hospital, she said: "Danny is the same, critical but stable. He's been on a ventilator. They are doing a number of tests, to see basically the damage that has been done. He is not conscious."
She added: "We have no idea what happened. I want to know, all his friends and family want to know what happened. But before Danny wakes up and tells us we won't know."
© Ananova

by Béatrice Bouillat, Lyon

On 5 December 2000 the anti-discrimination commission presented the result of a study on discrimination in the chain of furniture shops, IKEA-France.
In January 2000, the unions CGT and CFDT made public a racist written piece of advise submitted by a female employee of Ikea's Saint-Priest (Rhône) branch, which she sent by internal e-mail. The guilty employee suggested that no person of colour should be employed to distribute catalogues, the service of which she was in charge. Ikea's management immediately condemned this illegal suggestion and Ikea-France was in turn anxious to know if the suggestion came as a result of an individual initiative or was a sign of segregationist practices usual within the firm.
For this reason, the management of Ikea-France created an anti-discrimination commission comprising representatives of the unions and management. This commission ordered a sociological enquiry. The result of thie enquiry on discrimination in Ikea is in part positive for Ikea because the company's management cannot be criticized for any voluntary discriminative practices.
However, the enquiry revealed discrimination in union elections and for this reason the commission has been made permanent, a first in France. This affair will also have had the effect of ensuring that from now on, all managers will be fully trained in the work of the unions.
Post-script: an anti-discrimination at work law was voted through on 12 October, but has still to pass the Senate. The guilty employee was suspended five days before being reinstated in her post. As for the director of Ikea Saint-Priest, he was posted to another branch.
For further information: (the law yet to be passed at the Senate on discrimination at work) (Enquiry. Social partners get together against discrimination at work in the region of Rhône-Alpes)

Samuel Adebowale, Madrid

On the early morning of Monday 4th of December an illegally immigrated Moroccan youth, was found dead on the coast of Tarifa in Andalucía. He was shot by a civil guard at Tarifa port's frontier. Information from the security department indicated that the youth was shot because of his violent resistance against the security man. The civil guard was also found injured and has been summoned before court. Meanwhile, an investigation has been put in place to clear the ambiguity of the incidence.
The Association for Human Rights in Andalucía stated that it was very strange to hear of a migrant's resistance to arrest during his illegal crossing of the frontier. From their experience it was equally strange that a civil guard should have used his gun. The spokesperson from the association said that the civil guards are usually giving far more assistance to the rescue of the migrants than what they are obliged to by the law. Other humanitarian organisations involved in the medical attention after rescues like Red Cross have also expressed their surprise about the incidence.
The opposition party has called for the presence of the Minister for internal affairs, Mayor Oreja, to the parliament in order to give account of the polemic death of the migrant. Meanwhile, Mayor Oreja has responded to the demand by shifting all the responsibility of the incidence to the concerned security department.
There were about 4 other death cases in the same week: three black Africans one of them a pregnant woman, whose corpses were discovered in Ceuta. The fourth person died by inhaling exhausts from the engine of the boat used in the illegal sailing to the Tarifa port. It is not possible to give a definite number of the total death cases along the Spanish coasts. But no doubt the number is high.
There is a rising trend of the illegal crossing of the Mediterranean sea by migrants. In what goes of the year the record states over 15,000 interrupted illegal entrances through the Mediterranean coasts into the Spanish territory. But it is not only the number of people trying to cross the Spanish border by sea which is growing, but also the number of nationalities and the number of possible gateways. As there is an increasing number of migrants coming from the Asian continent, the Atlantic ocean coast becomes more attractive.
Further Information
Asociación de Derechos Humanos en Andalucía
Tel. +34 .956 228 511
Note: there are two audio files for this story available on the Griot webpage: the Minister for internal affairs remark and a comment by the red cross volunteer.

Payments to forced and slave labourers expected to begin in March
By Matthias Arning

Frankfurt - The fund set up by German industry and government to compensate former forced and slave labour victims of the Nazis believes it will be able to commence payments in March next year.
According to spokesman Wolfgang Gibowski, the fund fully expects outstanding class actions brought in the US to be thrown out by the end of January.
Two cases have yet to be decided. In the first, Judge Shirley Kram intends to rule on 24 January, 2001 on claims brought against German banks. She postponed her judgement to allow time for an investigation into "fair compensation" for damage to property. Five days later, another US judge is due to rule on outstanding cases brought aganist German corporations.
The compensation fund is waiting for these judgements before fixing a date for the commencement of payments to former victims.
" will show the worth of the agreements we made with the US government," Gibowski told the Frankfurter Rundschau on Wednesday.
In negotiations that resulted in the creation of the compensation fund, the US government agreed to press US courts to reject victims' outstanding class action lawsuits.
Social Democratic member of the German parliament (Bundestag), Bernd Reuter, said the Bundestag now expects the US cases to be thrown out. German MPs have yet to decide whether there are sufficient legal barriers in place to protect German industry against further lawsuits in US courts.
Reuter admitted he has given up hope of putting German corporations under pressure with a view to forcing more companies to contribute to the scheme.
By contrast, Gibowski announced the fund would be reviving its campaign in an attempt to "exert moral pressure on companies" to ensure German industry raises the 1.6 billion marks still missing from its promised contribution to the fund. German industry agreed to pony up five billion marks (around 2.26 billion dollars) but has so far raised just 3.4 billion. The German government will likewise contribute five billion marks.
German business had fallen behind with its payments, said Hans-Jochen Vogel, former head of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) and a member of the "Against Forgetting - For Democracy" educational foundation which was set up under the compensation fund.
Vogel described as shameful the fact that the fund was still missing such a large proportion of the money promised. In Munich, Against Forgetting published a list of companies which have refused to contribute to the fund despite having been founded before 1939.
The car manufacturer Opel, which was named on the list, benefitted from the exploitation of more than 100 foreign workers in March 1945.
A campaign initiated by authors Carola Stern and Guenther Grass and prominent pedagogue Hartmut von Hentig raised three million marks for the fund in contributions from ordinary German citizens ashamed at the prospect that German industry might not come up with its promised share.
The three organisers are now pushing for payments to begin "at the latest immediately" after the US court rulings. They donated the collected contributions to the fund with the proviso that the money "be paid out this year", although that is no longer possible.
The original date fixed by the German government for the start of payments was September 1, 1999 - the sixtieth anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland.
© Frankfurter Rundschau

The slogan of the secret police football team is unnerving. "You'll never walk alone," proclaims a 6ft-high banner opposite the VIP stand where the henchmen of the Stasi used to watch over Dynamo Berlin.
The club founded and nurtured by the Stasi's ruthless boss, Erich Mielke, rarely lost. But when East Germany collapsed and the spooky fans melted, the 10-times champions slipped into an age of darkness. Now Dynamo are re-emerging into the sunlight.
The story of Dynamo has mirrored the violent mood swings of eastern Germany in the past decade. Glory turned instantly to despair, followed by failure, bankruptcy and shame.
But there is hope. Dynamo have chosen a woman as their president, a rare feat in the male-dominated football world. A lucrative sponsorship deal has been struck with a local software company, and the players have rediscovered their winning ways.
The club, unlucky losersin the 1980 European Cup quarter-finals to the eventual champions, Nottingham Forest, play in an amateur league several rungs below the likes of Bayern Munich. But they head the table.
"We have a record turn-out today," says Karin Seidel-Kalmutzki, the Social Democrat councillor presiding over Mielke's legacy. At least 1,500 spectators shout themselves hoarse as Dynamo trounce the youth team of Hertha Berlin. The Hertha fans, all 30 of them, maintain a guarded silence. The pent-up frustration will be released when Dynamo go to visit them, and the east Berliners are welcomed with the familiar chorus of "Stasi swines".
Ms Seidel-Kalmutzki, a social scientist aged 40, is hurt by such taunts. "Look around you," she says. "Do these people look like Stasi agents? And the players, Cameroonians, Romanians, a Brazilian - are they from the Stasi?"
No, almost all the fans seem too young to have been in gainful employment 10 years ago, and nine out of 10 have shaved heads. The Stasi did not recruit many skinheads.
After the Wall fell, the original dark-suited followers of Dynamo decided it was safer not to show their faces on the terraces. The club even changed name, becoming FC Berlin in 1990, in the hope of purging the Stasi stigma.
As they tumbled without identity from one nether division to the next, attendance dropped to near zero, and ex-Dynamo had to move out of their imposing stadium into the nondescript arena once used by the reserves. Players sold themselves to the top clubs of the continent.
New fans did eventually come, but they were attracted by the thoroughly repugnant image. FC was adopted by East Berlin's burgeoning neo-Nazi youth. In 1998, FC Berlin were renamed Dynamo.
The Stasi connection is a tiny blemish these days. Mielke is dead, his secret army of cowering old men no longer frighten anyone.
But Dynamo's young supporters do. The club emblem is seen at demos of the far-right. Neo-Nazi violence on the terraces has been abating, yet Ms Seidel-Kalmutzki still has a big job on her hands.
"We have a terrible reputation because some people come here only to articulate extreme political views," she says. The president and the sponsors have had it with history. They want a new image.
© The Independent

The retiring United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, has called for greater understanding of the plight of more than 22 million refugees around the world.
In a statement marking the 50th anniversary of the UNHCR, Mrs Ogata said displaced people came from all walks of life - they deserved respect for overcoming the odds to survive and begin their lives anew.
The organisation, which says it has helped 50 million people in the past five decades, is urging countries not to regard refugees as a burden.
It says that, even though refugees still face widespread persecution and prejudice, governments in the developed world are tightening their borders, making asylum-seeking more difficult.
Mrs Ogata was speaking at the UN's European headquarters in Geneva, where the famous 'Jet d'eau' fountain is due to light up the lakeside sky in blue later on Thursday.
Thousands of candles will be set adrift along the River Rhone, which flows through Geneva. A special UN television commercial will also be launched to mark the anniversary.
In it, famous refugees such as the Czech-born US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu, Chilean writer Isabel Allende and sex therapist Dr Ruth Westheimer dance to singer Aretha Franklin's "Respect".
The agency, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954, was established with a three-year mandate to resettle two million people after World War II.
But 50 years later, there are more refugees in the world than ever before.
UNHCR is now one of the largest UN agencies, with an annual budget of $930m.
'Nothing to celebrate'
But for UNHCR spokesman, Ron Redmond, the organisation's longevity is not a cause for celebration.
"Our feeling is that UNHCR's five decades of existence are really nothing to celebrate because our continued need in the world is really a reflection of the failure of the international community to deal with some of the root causes of conflict," he said.
And protecting refugees is becoming an increasingly dangerous mission, with some 20 UNHCR workers killed in recent years.
"Humanitarian assistance has become, in the eyes of some people, just another weapon of war," Mr Redmond said.
"UNHCR works in many places in the world where even militaries will not go, and one side or the other accuses us of taking sides."
Mr Redmond says the agency is appealing to the international community to try to provide the funds and aid to ensure that humanitarian workers in such countries are better protected.
The most turbulent period of the agency's history has undoubtedly been the last decade.
The 1990s were marked by the wars in the Balkans, which saw 200,000 people killed and more than four million displaced, as well as the Rwandan genocide of 1994, in which one million people were killed and two million Hutus sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

Mr Kalejs has been deported from the UK, USA and Canada Police in Australia have arrested a man charged in Latvia with genocide and war crimes during World War II.
The 87-year-old man, Konrad Kalejs, is alleged to have been a guard at a Nazi concentration camp in Latvia where thousands of Jewish, Romany and Slav prisoners were executed or died of starvation. He has denied the charges.
His arrest followed a formal extradition request on Wednesday from Latvia, where he was charged six weeks ago.
Mr Kalejs has been released on bail and will now face extradition proceedings which could take several months.
He lived in the United Kingdom at the beginning of this year but left for Australia under threat of deportation. He has been an Australian citizen since 1957.
A spokesman for the Australian Justice Ministry told the Reuters news agency that Mr Kalejs would appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on 25 January.
He is likely to indicate then whether he will appeal against the extradition, the spokesman added.
Prosecutors in Latvia warned that the appeals would take time.
"There will undoubtedly be a long process of appeals and the issue may be decided by biology," human rights lawyer Nils Muzieneks said.
Lawyers for Mr Kalejs argue that he is too sick to stand trial and the charges against him are insufficient.
Mr Kalejs has admitted that he was a member of the Arajs Kommando, a Nazi hit squad believed to be responsible for 30,000 deaths.
But he says that he only fought against Russia on the eastern front or was studying at university when killings of Jews took place in 1941.
First 'Nazi'
Nazi hunters praised the extradition decision as "long overdue" but urged the Latvian authorities to ensure there was no delay in the proceedings.
"The passage of time since Kalejs committed his crimes in no way diminishes their horror or his culpability," a statement by the Simon Weisenthal Centre.
Latvia vowed to prosecute alleged agents of Nazi and Soviet crimes after it regained its independence in 1991.
But while nearly a dozen men have been indicted or convicted for Stalinist-era crimes, no alleged Nazis have been tried.
Of the 70,000 Jews living in Latvia at the start of World War II, 95% were murdered during the German occupation.

Stephen Lawrence: his murder prompted racism inquiry Conservative leader William Hague believes the police are being prevented from doing their job for fear of being branded racist.
In a speech at the Centre for Policy Studies, Mr Hague will blame the Macpherson report into the Stephen Lawrence's murder for undermining morale in the force.
He says officers are reluctant to stop and search black suspects and consequently there has been a significant rise in crime in urban areas.
The report accused the police of "institutionalised racism"; a phrase which Mr Hague says has been used by the politically correct to brand every police officer as a racist.
He is expected to pledge to "take on and defeat the attitude of the condescending liberal elite that has never trusted the police and now wants us to believe they are all racists".
Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year-old A-level student, was stabbed in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths at a bus stop in Eltham, south east London, in April 1993.
No one has been convicted for the killing but five men have at various times been either arrested, charged or acquitted. The inquiry, chaired by Sir William Macpherson, condemned the Metropolitan Police investigation as incompetent.
Following the report, the force produced its own guidelines for how its 25,000 officers should deal with ethnic minorities.
But an internal inquiry leaked to the Financial Times newspaper suggests senior Metropolitan Police officers still do not think enough is being done to tackle the problem of racism.
Shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday that arrests had dropped by a third since the Macpherson report, but street crime had increased in the same period.
Asked whether the Tory leader risked treading on delicate territory by criticising the report, Miss Widdecombe said: "It's not delicate territory to try to get crime down. It's what people want, black or white.
"We need enough police back on the streets of London and for them to be able to do their job.
"Of course you must make sure the police act courteously and proceed correctly but we must get crime down," she said.
Imran Khan, lawyer for the Lawrence family, said stop and search did not necessarily lead to a cut in crime.
"What Macpherson talked about was getting rid of discriminatory stop and search, not to completely do away with it, but to use those powers in a way that was fair and not based on the colour of a person's skin."
He dismissed suggestions that Sir William Macpherson represented the views of the politically correct.
Anxious to avoid charges of racism against himself, Mr Hague will stress his condemnation of Stephen Lawrence's murder and the need to tackle racist crime. But Miss Widdecombe said: "Good also came out of the Macpherson report, no one is saying that it was useless. But because of that unfortunate phrase 'institutionalised racism' police are afraid to do their job."
But Labour sources say the extraordinary attack on the police service is a mark of William Hague's desperation.
They pointed out that in February last year the then Conservative spokesman on home affairs, Sir Norman Fowler, said he entirely associated himself with the Macpherson report.
And Sir William Macpherson said on Thursday: "I am simply most surprised that the Tory Party should change its view, because at the time the report was written they, in common with the government, accepted the report.
"I thought William Hague might have had the courtesy to contact me beforehand."

The Dutch director Frank Vellenga has won the Silver Zebra last week. Vellenga received this media award for the best production about the multicultural society for his TV documentary 'Fear of Love' (Angst voor Liefde).
"A heartbreaking result," said the jury about the production 'Fear of Love', about homosexuality and the islam. Director Frank Vellenga received twenty thousand guilders and a silver zebra statue for it. The prize was awarded by secretary of state Rick van der Ploeg in the new 'World Museum' in rotterdam.
In the documentary 'Fear for Love' 20-year old Turkish boy Faith tells about his homosexual orientation. Faith is one of the few muslims who openly come out about being gay. The most special about the documentary however is that Faith father speaks. The thought of a son with a different sexual orientation is unbearable to him. According to Vellenga it is especially the father who makes the documentary so good. "At first he refused to cooperate with the project. I have called him three times, I have also visited him three times. During that last conversation we spoke about his son. At a certain pint he became so emotional that I asked him if he wanted to stop. I wanted to get the cameraman out of the car and film his emotions. He allowed me to do that." The documentary has already been awarded an 'Academy Award'.
The Silver Zebra, formerly known as the ASN-Media Prize, yearly lauds a media production that sheds its light on the multicultural society in the Netherlands in a critical and honest manner. The organisation of the award is done by the National Bureau for the Fight Against Racism (Landelijk Bureau Racismebestrijding)."
from Contrast, 7 december 2000

Join the largest gathering of refugee musicians ever for a concert called "Refugee Voices" to mark the 50th anniversary of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR and to highlight the contribution refugees make to their countries of asylum.
Guest stars Geoffrey Oryema, Rasha and In Mixed Company will be joined by refugee children's rights activist Youssou N'Dour and a chorus made up of refugees from Somalia, Kosovo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Balkans, Rwanda, Uganda, Vietnam, China, Chile and Burundi.
Celebrate difference with 90 minutes of pure music from the world's greatest refugee voices. at 20:00 GMT on December 14 for an evening to remember.
This invitation comes from the UNHCR-50 Foundation, which has been set up to help organise events to mark the 50th anniversary of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. The show, 'Refugee Voices', is the highlight of the anniversary programme and is the largest ever gathering of refugee musicians. The main theme of the evening will be Respect for refugees, with a public awareness campaign to be formally launched that day. This campaign features prominent former refugees such as politician Madeleine Albright, model Alek Wek and writer Isabel Allende.

At tomorrow's European Union human rights forum in Paris the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), will be particularly concerned with asylum and international protection of Romany refugees, reports IPS.
European countries in which serious incidents of violence against Roma have occurred in recent years include: Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine and Yugoslavia. Meanwhile Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Britain - all EU member states - have responded to the arrival of Romany refugees from other countries by imposing visas, effectively hindering access to asylum procedures.
"Many member states of the European Union now apply so-called manifestly unfounded claims procedures to persons they believe are fraudulently applying for refugee status; in light of deeply ingrained prejudice in Europe regarding Roma as chronic liars, there are serious concerns that authorities dismiss legitimate claims for asylum lodged by Romany individuals," said ERRC in an October position paper.
Claude Cahn, ERRC research and publications director, said Austria, Italy and Finland had all adopted or revised legislation relating to asylum seekers "and applied it in a discriminatory way against Roma," he said. r
© Refugees Daily

Approval for prosecution of Australian who used Internet
By Ursula Knapp

Karlsruhe, Germany - For the first time, Germany's Federal Supreme Court has ruled that foreign-based extremists who deny the Holocaust on the Internet can be prosecuted in Germany for inciting hatred - if the homepage can be viewed by Internet users in Germany.
Specifically, the high court's verdict addresses the denial of Nazi Germany's systematic attempt to exterminate European Jews propagated by Gerald Fredrick Toeben on his website. Toeben, 56, emigrated with his parents in 1956 from Germany to Australia, where he later obtained citzenship.
Since 1996, Toeben has been the director of the Australian-based "Adelaide Institute". Writings on the institute's homepage incite people to hatred and deny that the Holocaust took place.
According to Toeben, there were never any gas chambers in Auschwitz. He writes that the Germans need not harbour a "guilt complex", although they must continue to expect to be defamed by "Jewish circles". In addition, Toeben sent an open letter to Germany, addressed - among others - to the presiding judge in the trial of Guenter Deckert, the former leader of the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). Deckert was facing charges of inciting hatred.
Toeben was arrested while visiting Germany and tried by a district court in Mannheim. In November, 1999, the lower court found him guilty, on the basis of the open letter, of inciting racial hatred.
But the court said that his other revisionist publications posted on the Internet did not make him liable to prosecution under the German criminal code since they were posted in a foreign country by a foreigner and therefore posed no threat to public peace in Germany.
The Mannheim court sentenced Toeben to 10 months in prison - without any part of it suspended. The public prosecutor appealed.
Now, the supreme court has ruled that, under German criminal law, people can be prosecuted for posting text inciting people to racial hatred on a foreign Internet server - if that the material is accessible to computer users in Germany.
One of the criteria to prove incitement is that the action must be of a type to "lend itself" to posing a threat to Germany's domestic peace. The high court said this abstract danger was present whenever relevant websites could be called up from computers in Germany.
Observers say a new trial is unlikely. Toeben was released after his time in pre-trial detention was deducted from his 10-month sentence. He has since left Germany.
© Frankfurter Rundschau

Austria's far-right strongman Joerg Haider accused Italy yesterday of being too lax in the face of illegal immigration, and urged his own government to block moves towards common European Union asylum policies, reports AFP.
Haider declared that Italy's "overly generous" immigration policies resulted in an influx of foreigners into Austria.
Italy and Austria are both signatories of the Schengen Treaty, which allow free movement between a number of European Union states.
"Everyone must stick properly to Schengen - and that means that those countries, including Italy, which have committed themselves to the Schengen agreement, must start making new immigration policies," said Haider.
"Otherwise Schengen is not acceptable to Austria." Haider is due in Italy on Saturday to be received by Pope John Paul II.
© Refugees Daily

Ali G has come under fire for the use of racist slang Concern over the use of racist language on TV and radio is growing among British adults, according to research.
The survey Delete Expletives?, published on Monday, suggests racist insults are causing almost as much offence as certain swearwords.
The study was carried out jointly by the BBC, the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC), the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The survey also found that swearing in general was frowned upon when children might be watching.
It also showed that the BBC was expected to carry the least swearwords of all broadcasters.
Patricia Hodgson, chief executive of the ITC, said: "The research clearly shows that strong language is still a matter of great concern to viewers, and we expect broadcasters and television advertisers to take careful note of these findings."
Respondents were asked to grade a list of expletives in order of severity for the research.
The results were then compared to a similar survey conducted in 1998.
In both, the swear words considered the most offensive remained at the top of the list.
However, a number of racist words, such as "nigger" and "Paki" had moved up the table, signalling people's growing concern over their use.
Four-letter words in general continue to cause the greatest concern among viewers and listeners.
However, swearing is regarded as more acceptable in adult programming shown after the 2100 watershed - and on cable and satellite channels.
Stephen Whittle, director of the BSC, said the results of Delete Expletives? confirmed previous findings.
"Although there is an acceptance that swearing and offensive language is used in daily life and may be appropriate if a programme is aimed at adults, people would prefer their homes to remain an expletive deleted zone for children," he stated.
With regard to the findings concerning attitudes to the BBC, researchers concluded the audience felt the publicly-funded service had a duty to be more responsible.
The corporation's director of public policy, Caroline Thompson, said: "The BBC is constantly making difficult judgments about the use of strong language in its output.
"It will ensure that all its programme-makers are made aware of the report, particularly the finding that people are increasingly sensitive towards others."
The survey's results follow the ITC's latest bulletin criticising racist language by the cult comedy character Ali G in a music video.
The ITC upheld complaints that slang used in the video, featuring Madonna, was offensive to the African-Caribbean community.

Conference investigates the origins of hostility
By Karl-Heinz Baum

Potsdam - It was not really intended that East Germans would marry foreigners who came to the country. When Baerbel Sanchez went to seek approval for her marriage in 1987, the head of the authority told her: "If you were my daughter I would make sure that you would not marry a Cuban. There are enough German men here." The Stasi secret police investigated to see if the intention was to enter a proper marriage. When the application was finally approved, she was seven months pregnant. She was also handed exit papers - although she had no intention of leaving the country.
Her story emerged at a conference in Potsdam which investigated the phenomenon of xenophobia in today's eastern Germany and examined the causes.
A Vietnamese, Nguyen Van Huong, said: "As a student in East Germany, isolation shaped me." He was 18 when the Vietnamese government sent him to study law in East Germany. After passing his examinations, he went back to Vietnam in 1981 but returned five years later and completed his doctorate.
Then the Berlin Wall fell. He decided to remain in Germany.
Sanchez and Huong were two witnesses at the conference run by the Centre for Research into Contemporary History.
East Germany had not planned on having foreigners. Foreigners were tolerated and controlled. They were pithily defined in the laws so: "A foreigner is whoever is not a citizen of East Germany." They were alien, possible even "class enemies" - as opponents of they system were described - if they came from Western countries. One speaker, Joan Hackeling, from Los Angeles, said that not only did they not belong, "they did not belong here".
This also applied to Russians, the fraternal kin, from whom East Germans were meant to learn socialism. Both the ruling Socialist Unity Party and the East German people themselves felt as if they were better than the Russians in spite of the enforced German subservience. It was hardly different in relation to other fraternal groups such as Poles and Romanians.
Effie Rennbold, of Hanover University, said: "The socialist East Germany understood itself not only to be the better Germany but above all to be German." East Germany gave a high priority to subsidiary virtues such as order, cleanliness, punctiliousness and a healthy "feeling of being alive", she said.
Huong said fear of strangers, of differences, was natural. But what hurt him was was the debasement of other people, a feature which he had seen in the united Germany. He seldom travelled to the former East Germany because he was afraid to.
The Potsdam specialists said that in those parts of eastern Germany's Brandenburg state where right-wing incidents had been occuring since unification, there had been skinhead incidents in the East German days. These had been recorded in Stasi and Party records but concealed from the public.
Some older people were prepared to accept spectacular acts of violence because they hoped these would draw attention to the problems of the former East Germany, the specialists said.
There was general agreement that the way eastern Germans dealt with foreigners remained a burden which was exacerbated by changes brought about by unification.
© Frankfurter Rundschau

The publisher of the first unabridged Czech edition of Adolf Hitler's ``Mein Kampf'' received a three-year suspended sentence Monday for promoting Nazism, Czech media reported.
Michal Zitko was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine, the news agency CTK said. It said he appealed the verdict.
``Mein Kampf'' was published in Czech in 1936 and again in 1993 after the fall of communism. The 1993 edition, which was not a complete translation, included anti-Nazi commentaries by former Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Hajek.
The edition put out by Zitko in March was the first complete Czech-language edition of ``Mein Kampf'' without commentaries or disclaimers. The book - 100,000 copies were printed - sold well.
The publication drew immediate protests from the Czech Jewish Community, anti-fascist associations and politicians.
Zitko was charged with promoting Nazism in June and police seized some 300 copies of the book at the distributor's office the same month.
© Associated Press

A French appeals court on Friday ordered the eastern city of Strasbourg to hand back to an Austrian Jewish family a painting by Gustav Klimt.
The painting, entitled "Die Erfuellung" (The Accomplishment) and worth several million dollars, has been at the center of a court battle between Strasbourg city officials and the heirs of Karl Gunwald, a Jewish antique dealer from Vienna.
Grunwald had purchased the painting from Klimt, who was a friend of his. Grunwald's three children say the painting was sent by their father to Strasbourg in 1938 to avoid it being seized by the Nazis.
After German troops occupied Strasbourg, however, the artwork was sold at auction to a local painter who subsequently sold it to the city in 1959 for a mere 50,000 francs (about 8,000 dollars), 30 times less than its estimated value at that time.
The watercolor, which had been hanging in Strasbourg's new museum of modern art, depicts a couple embracing and a stylized so-called tree of life.
Strasbourg city officials, who had appealed an earlier court decision to hand back the painting, said they would abide by Friday's ruling.
© The Tocqueville Connection

Germany has stepped up the battle against the rise in neo-Nazi violence by unveiling a witness-protection scheme for defectors. It follows some startlingly lenient sentences as courts are increasingly confronted with vanishing evidence and outfoxed by a circle of far-right lawyers.
Politicians were shocked last month when several youths convicted over the death of an Algerian refugee walked free from an east German courtroom after one of the longest trials in recent history.
Eleven skinheads had been accused of chasing 28-year-old Farid Guendoul to his death in the town of Guben in February 1999. The victim ran into a glass door while trying to escape and bled to death.
Twenty-one months later, after many defence motions, challenges and interruptions, three ringleaders received sentences of up to three years. Six others of the mob were given suspended sentences. Two were found not guilty. One defendant had beaten up a foreigner while awaiting the verdict. Wolfgang Thierse, Speaker of the Bundestag, declared the trial a "scandal".
Wolfram Nahrath, one of the lawyers involved with the case, is also dissatisfied with the outcome. His client, Stefan Hintze, 17, was given an 18-month suspended sentence. Though he has no quibble with the sentence, Mr Nahrath is appealing. "I resent the fact that he was convicted for manslaughter," he explained.
Mr Nahrath has been practising law for only four years, but has already established a reputation in his chosen field, which he describes as "political crime". "I get calls from all over Germany," he boasted.
His dedication to the cause is beyond question. He describes himself as a "national German". He agreed to an interview, at his favourite pizzeria, on condition that no questions would be asked about his past activities. No need: they are well documented.
Now 37, Mr Nahrath was the last Bundesführer of the Wiking Jugend (Viking Youth), the organisation set up in 1952 to succeed the Hitler Youth. He was the third-generation Führer, after his grandfather, who was among the founders, and his father, Wolfgang, a prominent far-right politician.
The Wiking Jugend was outlawed six years ago after being declared a neo-Nazi terrorist organisation. Several of its functionaries had already been jailed for attempted murder, extortion, bank robberies and bomb attacks. Mr Nahrath then joined the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), which the government is trying to ban.
A father of five, he earns his living in the booming business of far-right crime, his fees paid by the taxpayer. "I have not become rich, but the state's determination to pursue every petty affair ensures that I have enough work," he said.
In the Guben trial, fate brought him face to face with a presiding judge named Joachim Dönitz, whom Mr Nahrath thinks is related to Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, who signed Germany's surrender in 1945. But nostalgic sentiments were not allowed to get in the way of the common strategy designed to scupper Mr Dönitz's work.
Twenty-two lawyers, two per defendant, plotted to string out the trial as long as possible. Mr Nahrath's best move was a successful motion to dismiss one of the judges on the grounds that he was biased.
"I did not contribute to all the delays," he said. Sometimes his client, or one of the other defendants, would be too ill, hungover or sleepy to follow proceedings. On such days the court had to be adjourned. The defendants found it all rather amusing.
The lawyers worked to a set choreography. Every line of possible defence is catalogued by the German Legal Bureau, a faceless organisation which co-ordinates the far right's legal response nationwide. Contactable by e-mail or via PO boxes, it dispenses advice and puts offenders in touch with suitably qualified lawyers.
It has an impressive website and list of pamphlets to help neo-Nazis. It includes hints on how to behave in court - anti-Semitic statements will not help your case - and what one can wear or say in public: a youth wearing a swastika belt-buckle was recently acquitted because it had been concealed under his jumper. Germany forbids Nazi symbols in public.
An attempt by this correspondent to contact the bureau brought a swift e-mail rebuke: "You are but a Hungarian."
The leading lights of these lawyers are hardly a secret, though. One of the most prominent is Jürgen Rieger of Hamburg, cleared last month of a charge of Holocaust denial. In a trial of neo-Nazis in 1996, he sought to prove that no Jews had been gassed in Auschwitz. While that would normally be a crime, a federal court ruled this year that lawyers were entitled to certain liberties in the pursuit of their profession.
Another notable is Ludwig Bock from Mannheim, fined last year for incitement to racial hatred.
"It's annoying, but what can one do?" asked Anton Braun of the Federal Chamber of Lawyers, when asked if such persons should be allowed to practise. Lawyers, he added, could be struck off only for very serious crimes, such as murder or perjury. If they stick to these rules, Mr Nahrath and his colleagues can look forward to a long and profitable career.
© The Independent

Amnesty International Slams Governments for Sanctioning Child Torture
By Marwaan Macan-Markar

A leading human rights organisation has accused governments in over 50 countries of permitting children to be tortured and subject to ''horrific violence and abuse''.
This ''tragic reality'' occurs among children trapped in war and conflict, those suspected of criminal activity and held in detention and those living on the streets, states the London-based Amnesty International (AI) in a report released globally Friday.
The 60-page report, which comes on the eve of the international Human Rights Day observances, on Dec. 10, argues that governments where such abuse occurs have failed to ''condemn, investigate and prosecute torturers a failure that has the consequence of legitimising torture''.
And among the countries identified by the report, 'Hidden Scandal, Secret Shame Torture and Ill-Treatment of Children', are Colombia and Guatemala in Latin America, Kenya and Uganda in Africa and Bangladesh and India in Asia.
''The torture of children takes many forms, and is an indictment of governments' failure to protect children from such ill- treatment,'' said William Schulz, executive director of AI's office in the United States (AIUS), in a news release. ''Children suffer horrific violence and abuse, yet governments ignore their testimony and let the torturers go free.''
The authors of the report add, furthermore, that there is marginal difference between countries when it comes to this form of violence against children.
''Around the world we see the same patterns of abuse,'' they reveal. ''There is little difference between how police treat children in China and how they treat them in Brazil; there is little difference between conditions of detention in Paraguay and Russia; and violence against children in armed conflict is equally devastating in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.''
For Janice Christensen, director of campaigns at AIUS, the governments named in the report have clearly failed to meet their international obligations, including their commitment to uphold the principles spelled out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
According to the CRC, which has been ratified by all countries with the exception of the United States and Somalia, ''no child shall be subject to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment''.
Equally disturbing, adds Christensen, is the reluctance of governments to prosecute the violators, many of whom are state officials, because that means ''accepting the responsibility that such child abuse occurs''.
Among the findings in the report was the ''profound impact'' torture had on the body and mind of a child. ''Children who are tortured repeatedly, or over long periods of time, are likely to suffer permanent personality changes,'' it reveals.
Furthermore, it points out, serious physical trauma ''may disrupt or distort normal growth patterns,'' causing lasting weakness and disability.
Regards children trapped in armed conflicts, it states that many ''are tortured'' simply because they live in an ''enemy zone'', or because of the politics, religion or ethnic origin of their family.
By way of an example, it notes how children suffered on an ''unprecedented scale'' during the nine years of civil war in Sierra Leone, where ''thousands have been killed, mutilated, abducted and forced to fight, or raped and forced into sexual slavery''.
For children taken into police custody, on the other hand, the report confirms that in some countries beatings are considered ''normal'' following an arrest and ''some police officers rely on torture as a method of interrogation''. This has meant children being struck with fists, sticks, chair-legs, gun-butts, whips, iron pipes and electrical cords.
In addition, detained children have also been sexually abused by some police officers, while others have been victims of electric shocks and cigarette burns. As a result, the children have suffered ''concussions, internal bleeding, broken bones, lost teeth and ruptured organs''.
The situation in juvenile detention centres is equally violent, the report adds. ''Physical abuse is a fact of life for many young detainees.''
And regards abuse of street children, the report disclosed that torture and ill-treatment is prevalent in many countries.
According to Michel Maza, co-ordinator of international relations at the Mexico City-based Centre for Human Rights, this global problem has been compounded by the ''culture of impunity the abusers enjoy''.
Christensen agrees, adding that the ''torture of children is a crime that is immediately covered up''.
Yet AI is determined to change such a disturbing pattern. And in its report, it has called on governments to publicly condemn the torture of children whenever it occurs, investigate all allegations of torture, ensure it is banned in law and that torturers are brought to justice.
It has also called on militant groups to drive home the message to their forces that ''torture is unacceptable''. To do otherwise, it argues, would not only expose the ''failure'' of the CRC, but also ''put at risk our future''. (END/IPS/HD/mmm/da/00)
© World News

A new crackdown on illegal immigrants by P&O Stena line in Calais has caught 43 stowaways in the first 24 hours. Faced with a steep increase in potential fines, the ferry company has hired 40 security guards to check every lorry bound for Dover. The Sun was unimpressed yesterday.
It devoted two pages to how the French released the "bogus refugees", allowing them to try again to "sneak into Britain".
All of which points to a possible solution, which the Sun might like to contemplate.
One reason why France is turning a blind eye to legal and illegal refugees heading to the UK is the lack of an EU common immigration and asylum policy. The EU member states in the Shengen group, do have a common approach following the 1997 Amsterdam treaty, but UK, Ireland and Denmark opted out.
The result is that a pass-the-parcel approach to asylum seekers continues to apply in Europe.
The countries under most pressure are those guarding the gates in the east (Germany and Austria) and south (Italy, Spain, Portugal) from the large number of asylum seekers from eastern states and north Africa.
But last year's figures show that after Germany, the UK received the largest number of appli cants in Europe. If the UK dropped its veto - as it will be asked to do in Nice - and joined in the common approach, other European states would have to pay more attention to suspicious lorries heading towards UK - and the UK would have access to the Shengen data-base, the largest in Europe, on who has been refused entry by other states.
There are reasons why more liberal organs than the Sun, might also agree to a common approach too.
Currently, the UK cherrypicks the EU immigration directives it is ready to back.
In Nice, it is supporting two directives tightening regulations (one against traffickers in illegal immigrants and another creating a common expulsion and deportation procedure) but opposing a more liberal move to allow citizens to bring in foreign spouses and relatives.
Although all European states vigilantly guard their borders, German and French ministers have joined the British in acknowledging Europe's need to import more skilled workers to fill its labour gaps. This is a new shift.
Unlike the US and Australia, immigration has always had a negative connotation in the UK. This new positive approach, is another reason why it would make sense for the UK to drop its veto.
© Guardian

IOM responsible for fund to Roma and other Holocaust victims; Romani Organizations Are Enraged

In a recent decision by Judge Edward Korman in New York, 100,000 US dollars will be placed into a fund for non-Jewish Holocaust victims in compensation for assets lost during the Holocaust. This sum will be put in the care of the International Organization for Migration, or IOM. The court's decision, based on the recommendations of Special Master Judah Gribetz was meant to end a long-running conflict and to find a means of providing many victims of fascism with at least a symbolic repayment of belongings lost to the Nazis or to the confusion inherent in their lives as refugees of genocide. Instead, in the opinion of major Romani organizations, the decision has only added further insult. At the center of the scandal is the IOM.
The IOM, based in Geneva, cooperates with governments worldwide in the repatriation of refugees to countries of origin. It has been accused by Romani refugees and by Romani institutions of coercing Roma into returning from Germany to Kosovo. Dr. Ian Hancock, professor of Romani studies at the university of Texas and an affiliate of the Roma National Congress, describes the IOM in a recent letter as "the enemy of the Romani people" for its collaboration with European states in sending Romani refugees back to Kosovo, where the security of non-Albanians is still very poor.
According to several refugees who have reported their cases to the RNC in Germany, bureaucrats at relevant government offices tell Kosovar Roma that they will no doubt be deported in time, and that if the refugees do not agree to participate in IOM's repatriation programme (which pays the cost of travel to Kosovo) they will inevitably have to pay themselves for their travel home.
Roma choosing to sign papers agreeing to be sent home under IOM's supervision receive money for costs of repatriation but must sign away any right to return to Germany or make further requests for asylum in the future, regardless of future political instability. The agreement with IOM stipulates that any refugee who does attempt to return and make a new asylum request will be forced to pay back all money received.
In some cases, refugees are bullied into cooperating with the IOM project.
"One man was told if he didn't sign up, he would be immediately arrested," Knudsen said in an interview, "They started calling the for the police. He signed," Romani organizations are also concerned with the collection by IOM of ethnicity-based data. The IOM keeps files of all Roma who contact the organization for assistance. The security of such data is not clear and, according to Marko Knudsen at the Roma National Congress, may violate German and European agreements on data protection. Roma, in order to participate in the IOM's programme, must also sign an agreement allowing the IOM to save data on them, including reference to ethnicity. There is a fear that Roma going to the IOM for Holocaust compensation will also be expected to allow the IOM to keep a file on them. For Roma who remember Nazi files on minorities, this is highly unacceptable.
Both of the world's two largest international Romani organizations, the Roma National Congress and International Romani Union protested Gribetz' recommendations to entrust the IOM with money for Roma but the court showed no interest in Roma's opinions.
Neither Gribetz nor the judge ever replied to correspondence from the organizations. In the opinion of Dr. Hancock, letters from the attorneys of the RNC and IRU were not considered by the judge at all; judge Korman who reached a final decision three days after the last letters from the lawyers had been received.
A representative of the IOM in Germany could not be found for comment. At the Berlin office of the organization, there is no answer to telephone calls. The organization's annual general meeting was held in late November. Minutes are not yet published on the organization's website.
© RomNews

By Mark Devenport at the United Nations

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch has said the international community must stop treating the UN as a dumping ground for problems without giving it adequate resources to tackle them.
In its annual report, Human Rights Watch accuses Russia of disregarding the suffering of civilians in Chechnya.
The organisation is also critical of the United States for its continued refusal to accept a new international criminal court.
The report, which runs to more than 500 pages with detailed sections on around 70 different countries, is published ahead of World Human Rights Day on Sunday.
Lack of will
It accuses Russian army commanders of being responsible for massacres and torture in Chechnya.
And it criticises what it calls the international community's refusal to put pressure on Moscow to bring these senior officers to justice.
"The international community often lamented that it had no significant influence over Russia, but squandered real opportunities for leverage or sanctions in favour of political expediency" Human Rights Watch said.
Other countries singled out include Colombia, where Human Rights Watch claims the army has not severed its links with paramilitaries.
"There was irrefutable evidence that the country's armed forces continued to be implicated in human rights violations as well as in support for the paramilitary groups responsible for the majority of serious abuses," it said.
And Israel stands accused of using excessive and indiscriminate force against Palestinian civilians.
"Human Rights Watch's investigations in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip in early October revealed a pattern of excessive, and often indiscriminate, use of lethal force by Israeli security forces in situations where demonstrators were unarmed and posed no threat," the report said.
US criticised
The United States does not escape criticism. The report points out that 70 people were executed by the US authorities in the first 10 months of this year.
Human Rights Watch criticised "police brutality, discriminatory racial disparities in incarceration, abusive conditions of confinement and state-sponsored executions, even of juvenile offenders and the mentally handicapped".
It accuses the Republican Presidential candidate, George Bush, of complacency over the high number of executions in his home state of Texas.
Human Rights Watch also says it is troubled by Washington's refusal to co-operate with the establishment of a new international criminal court.
Grounds for hope
But the report is not all negative.
It says there have been positive developments regarding human rights in recent months, including the fall from power of the former Yugoslav leader, Slobodan Milosevic.
"Milosevic's departure from power meant new hope for the rule of law and human rights protections in Serbia," the report said.
In an increasingly inter-connected global economy, the report argues that enforcing basic human rights standards, on matters such as child labour, will prove more and more important.
In order to confront the many challenges facing them, Human Rights Watch says that institutions like the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation need stronger powers and more adequate resources.

The European Women's Lobby (EWL) launched a year-long campaign here Wednesday to highlight forms of persecution unique to women, such as female genital mutilation, and to ensure that they are able to claim refugee status ''in their own right'' under future European Union (EU) asylum procedures.
The EWL, a coalition of 2,700 member organisations in the EU, believes that the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees and the follow-up Protocol of 1967, which together provide the legal basis for granting asylum worldwide, fail to explicitly address gender-specific acts of persecution, including sexual violence and other forms of human rights violations.
''Our message is a simple one and that is that women are asylum seekers too,'' EWL representative Helen Felter told a news conference Wednesday, but ''women's experience of persecution differs to that of men''.
The campaign is demanding that the EU mainstream gender into all asylum policies at all levels and recognise the specific forms of gender persecution as legitimate grounds for granting asylum in all of the EU member states, as it works towards a European policy on asylum.
A report by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Maj Britt Theorin this October notes that as long ago as 1984 that body called on EU member states to give refugee status to women based on gender-based persecution, but ''they have failed to do so in practice''.
In Britain, for example, women seeking asylum on the basis of gender-based persecution, are often rejected on the grounds that being raped is a side-consequence of war, arbitrarily meted out, and so does not amount to persecution on the grounds of political beliefs.
''In fact, most European Union states deport victims of rape and sexual assault, even sometimes after they have testified against their rapists,'' said Theorin's report, citing EWL research.
About 80 percent of the world's refugees are women and children, but despite this reality, initiatives to support refugees often ignore the basic needs of women, said the report. In detention facilities for asylum seekers in the EU, there are no special ''protection measures for women who are vulnerable to aggression and sexual exploitation on the part of male asylum seekers and male staff'', it said.
EWL President Denise Fuchs noted in a written statement: ''women are not always recognised as asylum seekers when their claim is based on guilt by association, where their partners are political prisoners but the women, not being party members, cannot claim refugee status on the grounds of membership of a political party but are nonetheless persecuted by association.''
Throughout the year-long campaign, the EWL will monitor progress on a draft directive on minimum standards on procedures in EU member states for granting and withdrawing refugee status, now being considered by the European Parliament.
The coalition wants to ensure that as far as possible the forms of persecution perpetrated against women are recognised and reflected in the definitions and procedures of refugees under EU law.
As part of the campaign, the EWL, in co-operation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, is distributing tens of thousands of postcards throughout Europe, highlighting four different areas of concern and asserting, ''persecution is not gender blind''.
The postcard on female genital mutilation, for example, notes it ''is a harmful traditional practice, which affects the health of woman and girls with devastating and sometimes fatal consequences''. Like the other three in the series, it concludes ''this practice should constitute a legitimate cause for women seeking asylum in any of the European Union member states''.
Other postcards point out the phenomena of 'rape as a weapon of war', 'forced marriage', and 'guilty by association'.
The postcard campaign is also supported by an electronic campaign and a web page, which can be accessed at the following address:
campaign. At the end of the campaign, on Dec. 6, 2001, the postcards and electronic petition will be submitted to Belgium, which will then hold the rotating EU Presidency.
Antonio Vitorino, EU Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, said in a statement prepared for the press conference Wednesday that the EU executive Commission ''entirely shares the importance attached by the European Women's Lobby to addressing the particular circumstances affecting women seeking international protection in the context of preparing a Common European Asylum System''.
He noted that the Commission has begun to start work on a directive on reception conditions for asylum seekers.
''It is our intention to make provisions for persons with special needs. The particular needs and situations of women clearly come into this category. The issue of gender persecution will also be studied in depth before the Commission tables proposals on Community standards for persons to qualify as refugees and to be granted subsidiary forms of protection'', said Vitorino.
Vitorino notes in his statement that in a draft directive of Sep. 20, the Commission proposes that every family member of an applicant have the right to be interviewed separately when applying for asylum in an EU member state, ''even if the host state does not consider her as applicant in her own right''.
ELW campaign co-ordinator Mary Collins praised the Commissioner for his willingness to dialogue with civil society and in particular women's groups on the issue, but when asked by IPS, acknowledged that his statement fell short of the benchmark that every woman be considered ''as an applicant in her own right'', as referred to women a subcategory of persons with special needs.
''I think this is an issue because ... in the current policies on asylum, they are usually seen as family member or in terms of reunification with a family member who already has asylum,'' she said.
''We have to make sure that there is an understanding that women's form of persecution is different, that their experience of persecution is different from men and that therefore they have the right to ask for asylum within their own right,'' said Collins.
''Women are not a homogenous group. Within the group of women, there are women with 'special needs', for example pregnant women who come to seek asylum,'' she said.
''But I think we must be very careful to ensure that women are not seen only a 'special needs' group and therefore for whom there will be secondary or subsidiary measures of protection. That is what our campaign is about - bringing the gender dimension into the heart of policies that are being put into place and not outside that or alongside that''.
World News

US still objects to planned UN tribunal for suspected war criminals
By Pierre Simonitsch

Geneva - As the year winds down, the symbolic deadline for United Nations' member countries to pledge their support for the International Criminal Court, proposed in a July, 1998, statute, is running out.
So far, only 24 governments have ratified the agreement for establishing an International Criminal Court, called the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court - 60 signatories are needed for it to take effect. The court would be the first permanent body set up to try individuals accused of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
The idealistic dream of an international criminal court has been around for decades. It began in the early 20th century, but two world wars and nearly half-a-century of cold war between two rival economic systems kept it from maturing. The idea behind it is to give the international arm of the law a long enough reach to put an end to the immunity so often enjoyed by war criminals and mass-murderers in pinstriped suits.
The UN Security Council's War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, set up in the bloody wake of the Balkan wars of the 1990s and the genocide in Rwanda, breathed new life into the plans for an international criminal court. For the first time, an international judicial body was set up and charged with trying and sentencing suspected war criminals by the book according to international law instead of imposing victors' justice on the vanquished.
Afterwards, most governments agreed that setting up a permanent world criminal court to deal with serious crimes against humanity rather than having to establish an ad-hoc court to handle each case as it comes along. For one thing, the very existence of a permanent court, and the implication that every suspected war criminal could be hauled up in front of it, would act as a deterrent, the reasoning went.
The overwhelming majority of the countries that took part in the 1998 diplomatic conference in Rome for establishing an international criminal court approved the carefully worked-out statute that the conference finalised and adopted.
Under the statute, the court would have jurisdiction over serious war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Whether it would also have jurisdiction over cases of aggression remains unclear. A working group is scheduled to present a report on that question to a preparatory commission that began a two-week meeting at the United Nations in New York on Monday. Germany, Portugal and Greece have presented their suggestions to the committee, but so far no universally acceptable definition of "aggression" has been established.
The preparatory commission also faces the job of clarifying the relationship between the proposed court and the UN Security Council.
The Security Council's permanent members want to have the power of veto over court decisions.
The December deadline is symbolic, set to speed up the process. So far, 115 nations - including all of Europe and the NATO governments, except the United States - have signed and 22 countries have ratified the treaty. After December 31, a country will have to ratify before it can join.
Diplomats expect the United States to announce its final position on the planned court during the two-week meeting of the preparatory committee. Washington has always had reservations about the court, saying that the large number of American troops stationed around the world leaves Americans especially vulnerable to being hauled up before the court. Pentagon objections have forced the United States government, for instance, to demand a guarantee that no American officer or civilian official on duty abroad will fall under its jurisdiction.
The United States' refusal to agree to turn its citizens over to an international court leaves the country on thin ice, considering the pressure it put on for the UN to establish the war crimes tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. It means that the US expects citizens of other countries to endure something it wants to protect its own citizens from. But under current plans, the court would only be empowered to act if a suspected war criminal's own country took no action against him or her.
Despite those arguments in favour of supporting the new court, conservative US Senator Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has vowed that the court will be "dead on arrival" if the administration sends the treaty for ratification as it now stands. United Nations diplomats assume a Republican administration in Washington would strengthen that view, and look to the departing Clinton administration as a last chance for passage.
© Frankfurter Rundschau

Amnesty International claims a three-year-old boy was kept in leg restraints and then put in a windowless cell for 13 days in an Australian detention centre.
The human rights group says it has found two other new cases of alleged child abuse in detention centres and fears it may be the tip of the iceberg. The cases also involve children being denied food and medical attention.
The complaints have been made by the parents of Iraqi, Afghan and Iranian asylum seekers.
They follow allegations that an employee of ACM, the private company which operates the centres, molested Chinese women on a deportation flight, and an earlier claim that a 12-year-old Iranian boy was sold for sex by his father in a detention centre, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
Amnesty claims other cases have involved a four-year-old girl being left with a broken wrist for two weeks, and an 11-year-old girl being kept in a confined space with her father and 23 other men for nine days.
A spokesman for the Immigration Ministry says some of the claims could have been exaggerated.
He says the incident with the three-year-old boy had been during a hunger strike when there had been "a fair bit of violence," and denied the four-year-old girl had been denied medical help.
He rejected calls for a judicial inquiry.
© Ananova

Romanians warn democracy may be in danger if Tudor wins elections

An opinion poll ahead of the runoff presidential elections puts an ex-communist and former president well ahead of his rival, an ultranationalist who made his name through racist and anti-Semitic diatribes.
The poll, by the independent IRSOP institute, gave Ion Iliescu 69% and Corneliu Vadim Tudor 31%. Some 1,200 people were interviewed from December 3 to December 6 in 130 towns and villages. The poll had a 2.8% margin of error.
Amid publication of the poll, about 300 Romanians marched through Bucharest, warning that the country's fledgling democracy will be in peril if Tudor wins the presidential elections.
"Those who died in the 1989 revolution count on us to make sure the principles they fought for are not forgotten," said Octavian Dicu, an Orthodox priest who had travelled from the steel making city of Galati for the march, alluding to the anti-Communist uprising.
Iliescu, and Tudor, a senator known for his racist remarks and for once saying that Romania could only be run at the barrel of a machine gun, qualified for the runoff after finishing first and second in the November 26 first round. Iliescu had more than 36% in that round to Tudor's 28%.
The second round is necessary because no candidate managed to get at least 50% of the total electoral vote on November 26.
Romania's elite are concerned that if Tudor wins the race, there will be social unrest and the country will be isolated from the European mainstream it is seeking to join.
Centrist parties that normally oppose Iliescu have backed him, fearing a Tudor presidency could lead to instability.
Calling him a fervent enemy of the Jews, the Federation of Jewish Communities have condemned both Tudor and his Greater Romania weekly, where much of his anti-Semitic diatribes have been published.
© Ananova

Around 100 works of art which may have been stolen by the Nazis are to be put on the internet in a bid to trace their rightful owners.
The paintings and sculptures are being displayed on a website after being uncovered in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
All the works have gaps in their histories of ownership from 1933 to 1945, and gallery officials believe this may be because they were plundered from collections across Europe by invading Germans or even Soviet troops.
Gallery director Pierre Theberge said: "It doesn't mean that what we are listing are all subject to having been looted during the war, but there's a possibility that some of them might. Let's hope there is some response."
The Canadian Jewish Congress has praised the move. Spokesman Nathan Leipeiger said: "We are pleased to see the National Gallery taking positive first steps to deal with the possible existence of Nazi looted art by examining works with suspicious gaps in their ownership and publicizing them on a website.
"But this is just a first step. We need a more transparent method of examining this issue to erase any doubts and to deal with still unanswered questions."
At the National Gallery in Ottawa, the suspect art includes many European paintings, some American ones and some sculptures, all produced before 1945, the London Free Press reports.
© Ananova

Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) and Minority Rights Group - Greece (MRG-G) denounce that, on 12 December 2000, two days after the celebration of International Human Rights Day (10 December), Greece demonstrates its defiant contempt and wanton repression of religious minorities at the One-Member First Circuit Court of Thessaloniki.
On that day, for the first time in the Greek judicial annals, the representatives of all minority Christian churches are scheduled to face simultaneous trial. Sixteen members of the Catholic, Protestant, and Jehovah's Witnesses Churches are being prosecuted for "unauthorized operation of a house of worship" in violation of article 1 of Law 1672/1939.
They are being tried despite the fact that the briefs contain the permits to operate a house of worship for eleven of the cases in dispute, while the other five are simply offices of the respective churches.
As it turns out, the prosecution began with a document by the State Security of Thessaloniki to the Prosecutor on 14 April 1997.
It is obvious that both the State Security and the Prosecutor are lying, their objective being simply the harassment and humiliation of these religious minorities, who happen to have already been acquitted by the court.
If stringent disciplinary penalties are not leveled against the mendacious state officials, this action will be regarded as having the sanction of the State at its highest levels. Following is the press release of the Panhellenic Evangelical Association, which brought this case to light.

BERLIN (Reuters) - Organizers of a Web site launched on Tuesday aimed at offering tips on how to combat racist and neo-Nazi violence in Germany said it had attracted hundreds of visitors within hours of going live. ``We've had hundreds of page hits already, and we're expecting thousands more,'' said Rudiger Hesse, spokesman for the project launched by six German state governments.
Under headings such as ``In the Pub,'' ``On Public Transport'' and ``In Pedestrian Areas'' -- places deemed potentially dangerous for foreign residents in Germany -- the site advises readers to enlist the help of other bystanders to stand up to perpetrators of racist crime.
The authors stress that passers-by who witness racial violence should try to reason with the attackers rather than resort to violence themselves. A spate of attacks on foreigners this year has raised the pressure on authorities to act to stamp out racist and neo-Nazi crime. The Internet is increasingly used by Germany's far-right scene to disseminate information and recruit new members.
The site,, was launched following huge public demand for information on Germany's far-right problem and how to combat it, Hesse said.
``We used to get hundreds of calls every week from people asking for advice on how to deal with far-right violence,'' he said. ``The good thing about the Web page is that people can access this information from the privacy of their own homes.''
© Reuters

Associated Press Writer

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) - German police have arrested a Palestinian man and a Moroccan-born German in the firebombing of a synagogue in October on the eve of celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of German reunification, prosecutors said Thursday.
The synagogue attack came just months after a still-unsolved pipe bomb attack in Duesseldorf injured 10 recent immigrants, six of them Jewish, dampening reunification festivities and heightening concerns about increasing neo-Nazi attacks.
Police arrested the two men, identified only as Belal T., 19, and Khalid Z., 20, after a search of their apartments turned up anti-Semitic and extreme-right material, including swastikas carved into the doorjamb and a picture of Adolf Hitler hand-drawn by one of the men.
Both have admitted throwing three Molotov cocktails at Duesseldorf's main synagogue on Oct. 2, federal prosecutor Kay Nehm said. He said there was no evidence so far linking the two Duesseldorf attacks.
Nehm said it appears the suspects were not motivated by right-wing tendencies, but acted out of revenge for the deaths of Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers. The fighting between Israelis and Palestinians began Sept. 28, just days before the synagogue attack.
``With their act, the accused wanted to react, to make a statement about the violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians,'' Nehm told reporters.
Neither had any known contact with right-wing groups, he said.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the arrests would not affect the government's recent moves to crack down on far-right groups.
``We have absolutely no reason to change our position toward extreme rightists,'' he told reporters at a European Union summit in Nice. The arrests didn't excuse other anti-Semitic crimes such as the desecration of graves with swastikas, he said.
The leader of Germany's Jewish community expressed concern that the incident could signal a dangerous coupling of two extremist forces. ``My biggest worry is that extreme-rightists will get together with fanatics from the Middle East and we will be threatened even more,'' Paul Spiegel said.
Tips from people arrested during a violent Palestinian-led demonstration against the Middle East violence and attended by both men in nearby Essen five days after the firebomb attack led to the arrests, Nehm said.
© Associated Press

The UN has expressed concern over the treatment of aborigines
By Red Harrison in Sydney

Thousands of people in Australia have been marching through the cities of Melbourne and Perth in a symbolic gesture of support for the country's aborigines.
In Melbourne, an estimated 200,000 people waving banners, balloons and coloured flags blocked the heart of the city for hours.
Led by an array of political, indigenous and civic leaders as well as representatives of churches, trade unions, students and ethnic groups, the march indicated what aboriginal leaders say is overwhelming support for a treaty between black and white Australia which recognises and apologises for the injustices of the past.
In October, international aid organisation Oxfam criticised Australia for failing to protect the basic rights of indigenous Australians.
The report said Australia was the only country in the world with a constitution that allows racial discrimination.
In another attack in July, Australia was criticised for its treatment of Aborigines by a UN Human Rights Committee.
The committee expressed concern at the marginalisation and discrimination suffered by Aborigines in Australian society.
Geoffrey Clark, chairman of the government's senior aboriginal authority, says marchers should remember this day for the rest of their lives.
"It's something that as a small child you'll remember - to be able to walk down the street with your family.
"And one day you'll sit back and reflect as to why and the reasons behind that and you'll realise that you're part of history, you're part of a turning point in this history of this country, where we're now forged together as a united nation."
Among the political leaders from all parties, the Prime Minister, John Howard, was notably absent.
Mr Howard refuses to apologise to aborigines for events that happened before he was born.

Haider: Set for a comeback?
By Bethany Bell in Vienna

The two parties in Austria's governing coalition - the far-right Freedom Party and the conservative People's Party - have both lost ground in a provincial election.
The result in the eastern province of Burgenland comes at a bad time for the Freedom Party, which is facing corruption allegations and a country-wide drop in popularity.
The Freedom Party slipped back by about two percentage points in the province - a result which one senior party official described as a defeat.
Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel's People's Party also slipped slightly in the election, which was a victory for the Social Democrats and the Green Party, both in opposition nationally.
Haider effect
When it was under the leadership of Austria's most controversial politician, Joerg Haider, the Freedom Party performed consistently well in provincial and national elections.
But since it joined the national coalition government just under a year ago - a move which led Mr Haider to step down - the party has not fared so well.
Earlier this autumn the party suffered a severe setback in the province of Styria - its worst showing since 1986.
The Freedom Party has seen its opinion poll ratings fall sharply since it entered government, leading some Austrians to speculate that Mr Haider, currently provincial governor in Carinthia, may be planning a return to national politics.
Mr Haider himself has threatened several times to end the national coalition with the People's Party, but political commentators say he is likely to wait and see the results of key provincial elections in Vienna early next year.

Racism is a problem in both urban and rural areas The problem of racism in rural areas of Wales is to be discussed at a conference in north Wales.
The Wales Community Development Foundation has said there are growing numbers of people from ethnic minorities living in the Welsh countryside.
The latest figures available - from the 1991 census - revealed that 1.5% of the Welsh population is black or from an ethnic minority.
The conference in Llandudno was told new approaches are needed to tackle racism throughout Wales and that rural areas should not be forgotten.
According to a recent report by the Commission, called 'Unheard Cries', racism in rural areas can take many forms.
Unemployment is often twice as high among the ethnic minority population in the countryside as it is among whites.
Unreported incidents
Because there are few people from ethnic minorities in rural areas - and because they are often isolated - the problems of rural life can be exacerbated.
Iintimidation, abuse and violence can destroy lives but many incidents go unreported.
The Community Development Foundation, a public body funded by the Home Office, has a long track record in Wales.
The Foundation advises the National Assembly on community development, social inclusion and economic regeneration.
The conference discussed what approaches the Assembly can take to tackle rural racism, with reference to education, social services and culture.
The event - organised in conjunction with the Commission for Racial Equality - also coincided with the launch of a new organisation, the North Wales Race Equality Network.

Plans have been launched to transform a city centre hotel into a hostel for asylum seekers, it has emerged.
Glasgow City Council has confirmed it has received an application to convert Kelvin Park Lorne Hotel in Sauchiehall Street into a hostel for five years.
The Leena Corporation, which is behind the bid, has supplied accommodation for asylum seekers in England and Wales.
A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council confirmed an application was received but it would not be considered until next year.
She said: "A planning application has been received and it is specifically a change of use application to convert the Kelvin Park Lorne Hotel into a hostel for asylum seekers for a period of five years".v The application was received on Monday November 27, however due to a backlog in council work caused by the recent strike action by public services union Unison it will not be presented to the Protective Services (Development Applications) sub committee until next year.
The spokeswoman said adverts will be placed in newspapers next week informing the public of the plan and giving them the opportunity to comment on the proposal.
Michael Stevens, group property director of Corus and Regal Hotels, which owns the three-star hotel said: "We can confirm that we have accepted an unsolicited offer for a potential purchaser to acquire the Kelvin Park Lorne Hotel subject to the granting planning permission for a change of use."
The Leena Corporation, which is based in Wealdstone, Middlesex, was unavailable for comment.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: "The Leena Corporation has a contract with the National Asylum Support Services to supply accommodation, however to date it has only supplied a small number in England and Wales."
© Ananova

By Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

A conference on racism recalled at the weekend how Irish Famine refugees "were set upon and beaten in Britain".
Such was the prejudice against them that even Frederick Engels, benefactor of Karl Marx, could say of the Irishman: "His crudity places him little above the savage."
In a keynote address to the Irish School of Ecumenics conference at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, a Methodist Minister, Rev Dr Sahr Yambasu, quoted from The Irish in Britain (1963) by John Archer Jackson.
"Their strange and `foreign' customs represented a threat to the native population. The Irishman's clothes, his brogue and general appearance, even when he was not speaking in Gaelic, singled him out from the rest of the community as an outsider, a stranger in the midst," it said.
Dr Yambasu, who is from Sierra Leone but ministers in Wicklow and Arklow, said that today, however, as strangers came to Ireland "willingly or forced by circumstances", fear of the stranger had taken ugly forms.
Nor was this recent. He quoted from the experiences a Chilean refugee in the State since the early 1970s. "Racism and prejudice had a big effect on the Chilean refugees and caused many problems for our families . . . We looked and spoke differently from them and rather than talk with us they began to fight with us," he said.
Since 1991 more than 100 nationalities had sought refuge in Ireland, Dr Yambasu said. Scaremongering by some media and authorities had resulted "in an outpouring of racist physical, verbal and institutional abuse directed at anyone considered to be a refugee, especially if they are black". They were "the really unwelcomed strangers in our midst".
© The Irish Times

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Austria's compensation offer for property seized from Austrian Jews by the Nazis will fall short of the expectations of victims' lawyers, the country's main negotiator said Sunday.
After two days of talks with U.S. deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eizenstat, Austrian officials on Friday agreed to make a concrete compensation offer on Dec. 21 at a meeting in Washington.
At stake are claims over private apartments, businesses, industrial holdings, real estate and other property seized after Nazi Germany absorbed Austria in 1938 and not covered by previous Austrian legislation.
``We will come with an offer that will be much lower than that expected from the side of the victims,'' Austrian negotiator Ernst Sucharipa told the Austria Press Agency. ``That means the offer will then have to be evaluated. In all honesty, I do not believe that it will be possible to then improve it.''
Sucharipa did not give dollar figures in the interview, but the leader of the Austrian Jewish community, Ariel Muzicant, on Friday said that Austria made an initial offer of $156 million. Attorneys for the victims or their heirs were reportedly demanding about $1 billion.
The Austrian negotiator said the two sides should either try to come to a quick decision before the holiday season or wait for the installation of the new administration in Washington after Jan. 20.
``If we take the second course we will lose time and we will probably also lose Eizenstat, who is really a valuable and very constructive facilitator,'' Sucharipa warned.
© Associated Press

New evidence enabled prosecution to re-open case
By Matthias Arning

Frankfurt - It was with a sense of relief that Peter Finkelgruen received the news that, after half a century, the public prosecutor is bringing charges of murder over the death of his grandfather, Martin Finkelgruen, in Nazi captivity during the war.
The charges relate to a Nazi jail known as Kleine Festung Theresienstadt, in northern Bohemia, in what was then Czechoslovakia.
The prosecutor in Munich is preferring the charges against a former member of Hitler's SS, Anton Malloth, who has been in custody since May. His trial, certain to be one of the last of a suspected Nazi war criminal, is scheduled to open in the first half of next year.
The prosecution would hardly have come this far if it had not been for Finkelgruen's commitment. He now expresses some satisfaction about the way things have developed.
But chief prosecutor Manfred Wick is not prepared to talk about a turnabout in the case - which has been running on and off for some years - just yet.
He says the charges are based on new information from wartime Czechoslovakia in which an eye-witness says he saw Malloth shoot dead a Jewish forced labourer as he was working in the fields in 1943.
This is a previously missing link in the chain of evidence.
In 1970, the Dortmund public prosecution took up the case of crimes committed at Kleine Festung Theresienstadt. Malloth was one of a number of ex-SS members suspected of involvement in war crimes there.
But for a long time investigators were unable to find strong enough evidence and closed the case on several occasions. This provoked accusations that investigations had been carried out with less than full commitment.
The case was re-opened two years ago with a new perspective. Up to that point, investigators had been convinced that Malloth - who was living in an old people's home near Munich - was a German citizen.
Germans are not extradited to other states, although the Czech Republic was seeking extradition.
Prague wanted to bring the case before a court again. In 1948, a Czech court had sentenced him to death in his absence on charges related to Theresienstadt. Malloth however escaped punishment and, until he was extradited to Germany, lived in south Tyrol, in Italy.
A professor of law, Raimund Wimmer, then checked the nationality of Malloth, who was born in Innsbruck in 1912, and reached the conclusion that he was stateless.
On the basis of this finding, Bavarian authorities withdrew his passport. Ever since, investigators in both Prague and Munich have been investigating. But the impetus for Wimmer's legal report came from Peter Finkelgruen.
© Frankfurter Rundschau

Lazio boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has issued a public appeal ahead of the Champions League clash with Leeds for there to be no repeat of the racial abuse directed at Arsenal during the Gunners' recent tie in Rome.
And Uefa chief executive Gerhard Aigner's special envoy will be in the crowd at the Olympic Stadium to report back on any trouble - with stiff penalties being threatened for any further transgressions by Lazio fans or players.
The European governing body were forced to act after Arsenal's 1-1 draw away to Lazio in the first group stage of the competition.
Not only were the club fined and warned as to their future conduct after foul comments from supporters, but defender Sinisa Mihajlovic was suspended for two games for racially abusing Patrick Vieira during the match.
Uefa have meanwhile made it clear they are determined to stamp out racism in Europe.
They gave reassurances to the Football Association last week after worries were voiced about the treatment of Arsenal as well as Emile Heskey in Turin last month and in Barcelona earlier this year with the Under-21 side.
Lazio have therefore been left in little doubt that an increased fine, if not the potential for even further punishment such as their ground being shut, could follow if they do not clean up their act.
Eriksson declared: "I really hope that it will not happen again.
"Good behaviour on and off the pitch is extremely important for the game on Tuesday. For Lazio and for everyone. I really hope it will not happen."
He said with even greater emotion just a couple of days ago that he found such racial abuse to be "disgusting".
The Swede added: "Some clubs have it worse than others and, unfortunately, Lazio is one of them. "
Mihajlovic, who publicly apologised after the incident with Vieira although he has since insisted he is no racist, is a doubt for Tuesday's game after missing Lazio's 2-0 win against Reggina through illness.
Eriksson, who is already without Claudio Lopez through injury, while Roberto Baronio and Dejan Stankovic are suspended and Dino Baggio is ineligible, will give fitness tests to both Mihajlovic and keeper Angelo Peruzzi.
Influential midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron is meanwhile expected to start after three weeks out injured in a huge boost for Lazio, while Giuseppe Pancaro and Alessandro Nesta are also set to play despite recent problems.
© Ananova

by Stephan DuVal

The United States of America. For many these words stand as a beacon of freedom and guaranteed rights. It has been said that the United States of America has the best of everything, and the worst of everything. This belief holds true for the USs human rights record. Beneath their widely admired constitution and many freedoms, lies a terrible aspect of American society: the penal system.
The United States activities in their penal and correction systems continue to raise red flags of concern as they violate various international standards set by the United Nations. These areas of concern include the use of torture, the employment of the death penalty, the frequency of severe police brutality and the treatment of prisoners and refugees held in questionable conditions.
Since the US ended a moratorium, (suspension of) on the death penalty in 1977, 598 prisoners have been executed. Seventeen percent of those were executed in 1999, under the leadership of President William Jefferson Clinton. On this year the US violated the international prohibition on the employment of the death penalty for crimes committed by children under the age of 18, twice. Michael Domingues and Sean Sellers, who were both sixteen when, in unrelated incidents, they committed their crimes, were executed in these cases.
Parallel to the issue of age, many incidences have been reported where racism or other factors were thought to have been a serious factor in a wrongful conviction, but The Supreme Court did not consider their appeals. One such example is that of Brian Baldwin, who was executed despite appeals from 26 members of the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, DC. They called for a stay of execution in view of the clear pattern of racial discrimination in this case.
Police brutality, including the misuse of pepper spray, police dogs, deaths from dangerous restrains holds and questionable shootings by police continue to be reported. A recent example of the alleged abuse of force by police occurred in Seattle at the WTO protests, where it was claimed that pepper spray was used on non-violent protesters. In several other cases, many unarmed suspects shot by police were members of ethnic minority groups. Some were shot in the back, while fleeing crime scenes of minor offenses or during routing traffic stops. The police tactic of specifically targeting motorists who were members of minority groups for stops and searches is called racial profiling. Though a few states have passed laws outlawing its use, it is far from becoming a national standard in the US.
In the prison system, prisoners have reported reports of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of guards. Mostly related to the physical abuse, the excessive use of electroshock weapons continues. Deaths at the hands of guards beatings have been reported, as well as long-term isolation in small, windowless cells, in conditions of reduced sensory stimulation. Described as conditions of extreme deprivations and repressive conditions of confinement by a Texas federal district judge, they were ruled to be in violation of the US constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling was appealed by the state and is currently pending.
During courtroom appearances where prisoners are expected to appeal their convictions and defend their character, stun belts have been employed to promote civil behaviour.
Women inmates now triple their total in 1989, they have also been victims of abuse in correctional facilities in the United States. Reports of restraints on sick or pregnant prisoners has been pointed out as being inhumane and Amnesty International has called for both the removal of restraints on pregnant women and an improvement in the inadequate medical care they receive. Sexual abuse by male staff has prompted calls for posts in womens prisons, such as guarding housing units and body searches to be conducted by female officers only. The largest problem that arises in these correctional facilities is the inmates fear of further abuses should they report on the current conditions.
For a developed country, the United States harbours many inhumane and brutal practices in its justice and penal system. To be fair The United States has made sundry motions to eliminate many of the inhumane practices that are part of its penal system. However, many of these concerns are not being addressed for a multitude of reasons, including a lack of public knowledge and mass support of change. It is primarily the responsibility of citizens to initiate change. Citizens must place pressure for change on those who have the power to implement it. Pressure may take the form of letters sent to members of congress, governors and party leaders, peaceful protests or forming volunteering at a lobby or special interest group.

By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS Associated Press Writer

GENEVA (AP) - Neutral Switzerland, widely criticized for its treatment of Jews fleeing Hitler's Nazi regime, banned Gypsy refugees from entering the country altogether, according to a study released Friday.
There isn't enough information to estimate the total number of Gypsies turned away to die at the hands of the Nazis, concluded the study, which was done by a panel of international and Swiss historians.
It said the Swiss failed to grant asylum even after they knew Gypsies were targets of Hitler's genocide - with a special camp fitted with gas chambers in Auschwitz. An estimated 100,000 Gypsies were murdered by the Nazis.
While the Swiss lifted the ban on Gypsies only in 1972, they hadn't been fully enforcing it for some time as it became increasingly unpopular. A 1951 Swiss police document said the policy remained in effect, saying ``that Gypsies in the true sense of the word no longer live in Switzerland.''
While the study focused on the treatment of Gypsies under the Nazi era, researchers found that Switzerland had been putting foreign Gypsies in internment camps since 1913.
The government-appointed panel of historians was headed by Swiss historian Jean-Francois Bergier and the late Sybil Milton, a U.S. expert on the Holocaust and the Gypsies. She died in October.
The experts last year criticized Switzerland for closing its borders to Jews in 1942, when it became known that Hitler was implementing his ``final solution'' that was to kill six million Jews and others.
Switzerland admitted 27,000 Jewish refugees during the Nazi era, but turned back a similar number, historians have said.
Other European countries discriminated against Gypsies, the study said. Fascist Italy started driving them out in the 1920s, and the Netherlands and other countries followed suit with their own expulsion policies in the early 1930s.
In contrast to the extensive information about the plight of the Jews, there is little documentation about Gypsies. In general, the only organization that kept any records on them in the first half of this century was the International Criminal Police Commission - the forerunner of Interpol.
Like other European countries, Switzerland also used forced sterilization against Gypsies, the study said. It noted similar practices in Scandinavia, aimed at keeping poor people and those with mental problems from passing on their genes.
Until a recent $1.25 billion settlement in New York, Swiss banks were criticized for failing to return the assets of Holocaust victims to their heirs - including Gypsies. The settlement includes a provision to give part to Gypsy victims and their descendants The report used the Gypsies' preferred names for themselves - Sinti and Roma.
© Associated Press

The Dutch driver of a truck in which 58 Chinese immigrants suffocated to death has denied manslaughter charges.
Perry Wacker, 32, appeared in court in Maidstone, in Kent, near where the bodies of the 54 men and four women were found by customs officials on June 18.
The migrants died in the back of the airtight refrigerated truck during a crossing from Belgium.
Wacker, of Rotterdam, has pleaded not guilty to 58 counts of manslaughter and of conspiring to smuggle the 58 people, along with two survivors, into Britain.
A 29-year-old interpreter, Ying Guo, also denied conspiracy to smuggle illegal immigrants.
A trial date will be set on December 22, with proceedings expected to begin in February.

The Football Association have raised their concerns with Uefa over a series of incidents in which England-based players have been racially abused abroad.
The FA were heartened to hear European football's governing body have pledged to step up their attempts to eradicate any problems with racism.
Indeed, Uefa will keep a careful eye on next week's Champions League tie between Lazio and Leeds - while a worldwide conference and the threat of strong disciplinary action against any guilty club are also being considered.
FA executive director David Davies headed the English delegation which spent one hour meeting senior Uefa officials in Geneva to express their concerns.
It followed incidents such as the racist abuse hurled at Emile Heskey by Yugoslavia fans during the England Under-21 play-off in Barcelona earlier this year and by Italy supporters during the recent senior friendly in Turin.
Then there was also the abuse levelled at Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira by Lazio defender Sinisa Mihajlovic during the Gunners' Champions League tie in Rome last month.
With Leeds also visiting the Italian capital to play Lazio next Tuesday, Uefa are anxious there are no further problems.
Davies declared: "I'm satisfied that the leadership of Uefa are taking these matters very seriously.
"They are monitoring matches in Europe very closely, and this meeting is recognition of a need to be much more pro-active in this area."
Davies detailed the pro-active measures which have been used to tackle racism in this country, and it is likely that the FA will be asked to become involved in a possible worldwide conference to target the problem.
Uefa chief executive Gerhard Aigner is taking a personal interest in the issue, and he wants to ensure that any racism is eradicated, with strong disciplinary action likely to be threatened against any guilty clubs.

A KEY meeting of European Union justice and home affairs ministers in Brussels today is expected to give the go-ahead for a massive fingerprint database to help curb widespread abuse in asylum applications.
The Eurodac computer will be fed fingerprints from asylum seekers in all member states to determine if there have been multiple applications.
Ministers at their meeting today and tomorrow will take the first formal steps to ensure the computer is fully operational by the end of next year.
Technical work has been almost completed but a location for the database in a European city has yet to be finalised.
In the meantime, Ireland has agreed bilateral deals with Britain and France for the exchange of fingerprints in a bid to reduce the level of fraud here.
These will come into operation early next month and approaches have also been made to other European countries for similar agreements.
Since last week new asylum seekers over the age of fourteen are being fingerprinted here and a total of 500 applicants have been processed during the first week of the operation which is being carried out manually initially involving specially trained staff.
But an electronic system is due to come into operation next year before Eurodac comes on stream.
According to the head of the Garda national immigration bureau, Chief Superintendent Martin Donnellan, the introduction of fingerprinting and shared intelligence should make a major impact in helping to regularise the numbers arriving into the asylum process.
The move has the backing of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees whose spokeswoman told the Irish Independent they were in favour of any move which protected the integrity of the refugee process, provided it was not abused.
EU ministers are increasingly concerned by asylum applications being lodged in different countries and without fingerprint exchange the authorities are seriously hampered in trying to establish the extent of the abuse of the system.
Eurodac is also expected to assist the operation of the Dublin Convention which stipulates that an application for asylum should be processed in the first EU state entered by the applicant. If any asylum seeker turns up elsewhere in the EU, he or she should be returned to the initial state.
Immigration officials believe there will be less problems in processing applications when the true figures have been established.
Alongside the 26,000 applications that have been lodged here since 1995, it is estimated that up to another 20,000 could have arrived in the country without becoming involved in the asylum process.
The gardai are devoting much of their resources towards thwarting the traffickers who are devising methods to circumvent controls at air and sea ports but are also using the border to bring in immigrants from Britain through the North.
Following changes to the deportation procedures in the wake of a successful court challenge to the initial legislation, about 130 failed asylum seekers have been sent out of the country in recent months.
About 500 deportation orders have been signed by Justice Minister John O'Donoghue but this is expected to rise to 1,000 in coming weeks.
New legislation has also given powers to the gardai to cope with asylum applicants who break the law by giving false information and destroying, forging or altering identity documents.
The Irish Independent

Germany rocked by right-wing thugs' senseless killing of a little boy
By Bernhard Honnigfort

Dresden - Germany is under shock these last few days after it has come to light that a little boy, just six years old, was brutally murdered in a swimming-pool over three years ago. Over the course of the ensuing three years, dozens - if not hundreds - of witnesses to his fatal ordeal stayed silent, oblivious to the pain of the boy's parents and sister and to the danger that his killers may strike again.
Since the story broke, police have arrested three suspected right-wing thugs who they believe were among the crowd of perhaps 50 skinheads who abused and drowned little Joseph at an outdoor pool in the town of Sebnitz, population 10,000, in eastern Germany.
Criminologists have already expressed their belief that the original investigation at the time of the suspicious death neglected key factors.
The chief prosecutor in Dresden, Claus Bogner, informed this newpaper on Thursday that one woman and two men between the ages of 20 and 25 had been arrested earlier in the week in the states of Saxony and Lower Saxony and placed in custody on suspicion of the murder of Joseph Abdulla. The son of an Iraqi chemist died on June 13, 1997 in the town's "Dr. Petzold" swimming pool.
At the time, the police assumed it was nothing more than a tragic accident, although the state prosecutor in nearby Pirna did not officially close investigations until May, 1998. But research by Joseph's parents, Saad Abdulla and Renate Kantelberg, showed their son died as a result of an abominable murder. "My son did not drown.
He was murdered by right-wingers," Kantelberg, a local town councillor, told the Frankfurter Rundschau.
The parents, who have lived in Sebnitz for the last four years and - because of the father's origins - feel threatened by neo-Nazis, never believed their son had died in an "accident". Over time, they collected around 30 eyewitness accounts, some of which attested to an appalling chain of events.
According to some versions, right-wing thugs rounded on Joseph in the swimming pool as others stood around his sister "like a human wall" to prevent her from realising what was happening. Joseph was apparently hit and abused before being dragged off, screaming, to a snack stall.
Here, he was again hit in the stomach and a potion was poured into his mouth. As discovered later in a second post mortem examination that the family paid for themselves, the drink contained the sedative ritalin, a substitute form of the party drug ecstasy common in skinhead circles. Then he was dragged backed to the swimming pool, barely conscious, and thrown in at the deep end.
How could it be that 250 guests at the pool did nothing? Why didn't the staff step in to stop the hideous act? And why did the mother have to fork out 10,000 marks (almost 4,300 dollars) of her own money to pay for a second autopsy to discover the drugs which forensic scientists had missed ealier? In summer this year, the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony called for the case to be reopened. After examining eyewitness accounts which the parents had passed on to the institute for evaluation, the experts arrived at the conclusion that previous evidence was "outdated". The earlier investigation was flawed, they said, consistent "with disinterest or unprofessionality". The interior minister of Saxony state is now set to determine whether Pirna's criminal investigators were negligent at the time of the murder.
Frankfurter Rundschau

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Thousands of poor immigrants are waiting in Middle Eastern countries for clandestine passage to Europe, Cyprus said on Friday.
Authorities on the east Mediterranean island, which is a regular drop-off point for immigrants sailing either from Syria or Lebanon on decrepit fishing boats, said they wanted more cooperation with neighboring states to deal with the issue. "Based on police information, tens of thousands of immigrants are expected either to stay in Cyprus or go through Cyprus on to other countries," said Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou in a statement.
He said he planned to have meetings in Syria and Lebanon over the matter, possibly in December. Patrols of the Cyprus coastline have tightened in the past two years, but immigrants still manage to slip through.
Last week, Cyprus detained some 40 Kurds and Syrians who had landed on the southeast tip of the island from a fishing boat. On Friday, it was looking for another group of immigrants who had apparently arrived unnoticed on the island earlier in the week.
Many of the immigrants, who frequently travel in family groups with young children at their side, pay hundreds of dollars each to travel rough on poorly maintained fishing boats.
The task of repatriating immigrants is usually complicated by the fact that none of them have any travel documents.
ABC news

BUCHAREST, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Romania"s leftist former President Ion Iliescu, boosted by support from centrists, said on Thursday he was confident he would defeat his far-right opponent in runoff presidential elections next month. "I will win. Corneliu Vadim Tudor will not get more votes than he did last week," Iliescu told Reuters.
Tudor, a nationalist accused by critics of being anti-Semitic, anti-Gypsy and anti-Hungarian, came second in last week"s first-round election with 28 percent of the vote. Iliescu topped the list with 36 percent. The result sent shock waves round western Europe and prompted Romania"s centrists to set aside their differences with Iliescu"s PDSR -- their traditional foe.
In an unprecedented move, Liberal, Social Democrat and ethnic Hungarian leaders pledged "unconditional" support for Iliescu in the December 10 runoff and urged their supporters to vote against "extremism, totalitarianism and chauvinism." "Vote for Iliescu," they said in televised broadcasts. "Our people are rational. They can"t trust his (Tudor"s) demagogic promises.
They have neither substance nor economic support," Iliescu said. Tudor and his nationalist Greater Romania Party promised to rule Romania with an iron fist, eradicate corruption and impose the rule of law at gunpoint.
They also promised job security and support for the poor. The Greater Romania Party, which also finished second in Sunday"s parliamentary polls, offered to form a government with Iliescu"s PDSR, which came first. But the PDSR ruled out any alliance with the nationalists.
Iliescu said he was ready to form a minority government, but was also open to "dialogue and cooperation with the other parties in the opposition."
On Wednesday, the United States said it wanted strong ties with Romania but sent a clear signal to the voters that they might regret it if they elected Tudor. A State Department spokesman hinted that Romania could suffer a similar fate to Austria, whose EU partners froze diplomatic contacts with it after far-rightist Joerg Haider"s Freedom Party joined a coalition government.
The spokesman said Romania must remain committed to common European and Euro-Atlantic standards of democracy, respect for rule of law and human rights, including the rights of minorities.
ABC news

Gypsies are under-represented in national parliaments
By BBC Central Europe reporter Nick Thorpe

The first ever international meeting of Roma or gypsy parliamentarians and elected representatives begins on Thursday in the Czech capital, Prague.
The gathering has been organised jointly by the Czech Foreign Ministry and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
It is intended to improve the chances of Roma representation and to share information.
In the whole of Europe there are only five deputies of Roma origin in national parliaments, according to the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
'Prejudice persists'
At local level the figures improve slightly: Twenty mayors and 400 local councillors, all in East and Central Europe, where most Roma live.
A recent annual report by the European Commission on the progress of the 12 countries waiting to join the EU was critical of what it called the continued prejudice and failure to provide equal opportunities in most of the candidate countries.
The Czech Republic, where the meeting is taking place, has been much criticised in the past, as have Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
In Hungary, a system of Roma local councils is sometimes seen as a model for other countries.
But there are now no Roma representatives at all in the national parliament.
With the situation differing so widely in each country, the main purpose of this meeting - the first of its kind - is to share information.
A set of guidelines may also be drawn up and recommendations made to national governments.
BBC news

Experts have panned efforts to ban access to Nazi auctions
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

Two of the three experts whose testimony led a French court to tell Yahoo to stop French web surfers seeing auctions of Nazi memorabilia have criticised the judge's decision.
The opinion of the technical experts is widely believed to have helped convince the French court that it was worth telling Yahoo to install a system to stop a majority of French web users looking at the offending sites.
Now, two of the three witnesses have criticised the ruling saying any restrictions can be "trivially" avoided and that it might tempt more repressive regimes to make the same demands. As Yahoo prepares its appeal against the French ruling, German police are starting to investigate the site over allegations that it has been selling copies of Hitler's Mein Kampf which is banned in the country.
Judge rules
On 20 November, French judge Jean-Jacques Gomez re-affirmed an earlier ruling that called on Yahoo to stop French web surfers seeing the auction of Nazi memorabilia on the portal's US site.
The case against Yahoo was brought by the Paris-based International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism, the Union of French Jewish Students and the Movement against Racism.
Before making his decision, the judge sought testimony from three technical experts on whether it was possible for Yahoo to comply with any ruling.
The three experts called on were internet pioneer Vint Cerf, British Apache web-server guru Ben Laurie and Francois Wallon who works for the French government's office of technology.
Web block
Now, Mr Cerf and Mr Laurie have expressed doubts about the ruling and how it might be made to work.
Mr Cerf, who is also head of net body Icann, said if the French court enforced its ruling other governments might ask other web businesses to introduce similar curbs.
He said the French court had ignored warnings from the experts about the "limitations and risks" of trying to stop French people seeing the auctions of Nazi memorabilia.
"Ignored was the observation that if every jurisdiction in the world insisted on some form of filtering for its particular geographic territory, the world wide web would stop functioning," he said.
Online apology
British expert Ben Laurie has joined the criticism of the French court saying the decision was "half-assed".
Mr Laurie has posted an apology for the decision on the web which says that when the experts made their decision they laid aside their political views and simply looked at whether it was technically feasible to block French surfers.
The panel concluded that it was possible by looking at the net address of visitors or by simply asking them if they were French and then posting a file called a "cookie" on their computer so Yahoo could spot them next time they visited.
In the apology, Mr Laurie says any technical remedies are "inaccurate, ineffective and trivially avoided" and calls the French court's solution "half-assed".
The French courts have given Yahoo three months to come up with a technical solution or it will face daily fines.
As Yahoo mulls an appeal, the German authorities are investigating the site over allegations that copies of Hitler's Mein Kampf are for sale on it. The book is banned in Germany.
BBC news

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder gave conservative opposition parties a tongue-lashing yesterday, accusing them of irresponsibly mixing up immigration law with the right to asylum, reports AFP.
Schroeder said that giving asylum to refugees was a question of "self-respect" for Germany and the progress in civilisation it had made since the end of fascism, not just one of image and formal rights.
He told the Christian Union parties during a budget debate that a policy of "controlled immigration," which he said the country needed, was a matter to be considered independently of the right to asylum.
The Chancellor lambasted the opposition parties for their recent exploitation of the notion of a "leading German culture" to which immigrants should conform and for seeming to claim a monopoly on patriotism.
Refugees Daily

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