human rights news & views

Five pacifists prepare for trial

Norman Aisbett wrote a terrific profile of Australian-Irish pacifist Ciaron O’Reilly in the ‘Weekend Extra’ section of The West Australian newspaper on 20 May 2006 (which unfortunately is not available online, but I quote it below).  He describes how in 2003 O’Reilly and four fellow activists broke into a hangar at Shannon Airport near Limerick […]

Close Guantánamo

The Cuban hit song Guantánamera celebrates the women of the seaside town of Guantánamo.  The lyrics speak of seeking refuge in the mountains in preference to the seashore.  There are about 460 involuntary Guantánamero (men) who might echo that sentiment. That such a place as the US detainment camps at Guantánamo exists at all, when […]

Governor-General intervenes to deny equal rights

Just yesterday I was writing about the powers of the Governor-General.  Now the Queen's representative in Australia, Major General Michael Jeffery, has overturned laws passed in the ACT allowing same-sex civil unions (not quite marriage, but the closest thing we have in Australia so far). The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is a small region in […]

A new social contract

Australia is,  I believe, the only country in the world to declare a public holiday in honour of a horse race.  But at the least the Melbourne Cup is a home-grown event and the holiday actually falls on race day (the first Tuesday in November).  Today is a public holiday known as the Queen's Birthday.  […]

Boundless plains to share

Treasurer Peter Costello urges Australians to have more children.  He seems to think a bigger population would be a good thing for Australia.  So why is his government pathologically averse to, one could say xenophobic towards, refugees? Australia has distinguished itself yet again by proposing refugee policy even more appalling than before.  Having previously ‘excised’ […]

Adjudicating between rights

Conflicting rights claims are inevitable and it helps to have some fair, principled ways of sorting them out. A professor of law belonging to the Eualeyai and Kamillaroi nations, Larissa Behrendt cites the controversial case from the Northern Territory of Australia of a 55 year-old indigenous man convicted of raping a 14 year-old indigenous girl […]