human rights news & views

The inalienable right to vote

A fine tradition of Australian parliamentary democracy — in addition to compulsory voting, long may it last — is the respect given to all prisoners' right to vote.  Perhaps it is a consequence of (white) Australia's penal history that we don't regard prisoners as less than human.  Whatever they may have done, adult prisoners should […]

Evidence-based public policy

Criminologist Don Weatherburn, Director of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in Sydney, argues persuasively for an evidence-based approach to crime prevention.  Scientific research is not inerrant, but in the long run it is far superior to ideology, 'common sense' or subjective experience as a basis for sound public policy. Prison policy too should […]

Geoffrey Robertson’s ‘The Tyrannicide Brief’

Esteemed human rights barrister and judge Geoffrey Robertson QC has always been a hero of mine. (Strictly speaking, Fred Astaire was a hero of mine long before I'd heard of Robertson and his Hypotheticals. I was devastated when my mother told me that Astaire probably wouldn't be available for tap lessons, but Robertson has never […]

Australia violates rights of indigenous boy

With the Australian media seized with a sudden interest in the complex social problems of some Aboriginal communities, politicians seeking solutions without consultation and the Prime Minister, John Howard, advocating a ‘law and order’ response, we see once again the impact of the law on indigenous youth: this time recognised at the highest international level […]