human rights news & views

Political prisoners executed for their organs

It couldn’t last. Two good-news posts in a row (25 July), but now I’m afraid my subject matter turns to human rights hell. Since the de facto privatisation of the health system in China in the early 1980s, most Chinese can’t afford decent medical care. Meanwhile, human organs are sold to rich Chinese and foreigners […]

Ploughshares Five acquitted!

The 5 Catholic Worker pacifists who in February 2003 disarmed a US Navy warplane at Shannon airport in the ‘neutral’ Republic of Ireland have just endured their third trial for 10 counts of criminal damage and were today acquitted on all counts. Their principal defence was that they had ‘lawful excuse’ to damage the plane, […]

UN Council adopts indigenous rights

A momentous act of the nascent UN Human Rights Council cannot go unheralded.  Who would have thought this brand new institution — created earlier this year to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights, but ranking alongside the Security Council — would take the plunge and adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? […]

The UN’s complex reality

"Simply put, we [Australians] do not have to listen to any one else. We are the bench mark. The rest of the world needs to catch up . . . Who cares what the UN thinks? They have achieved nothing in their history. "Talk, talk, talk . . . that is all the UN does.  […]

Some rights protection in some of Australia, in spite of everything

A little bit of human rights history was made in south-eastern Australia yesterday when the parliament of Victoria passed laws protecting civil and political rights. The Australian Capital Territory has had a Human Rights Act since 2004, but this is the first major jurisdiction in Australia, the first state, to pass human rights legislation. Western […]

Annan encourages rule of law at Guantánamo

Outgoing UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has previously condemned the US-led war on Iraq as illegal. He has also called for the detention camps at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba to be closed. Yesterday, he praised the Bush Administration‘s decision to respect Guantánamo detainees’ inalienable legal rights to the protection afforded by common article 3 of the […]

Counter-terrorism counter-productive if it violates rights

I've written previously of my admiration for Australia's man-in-London, human rights giant Geoffrey Robertson QC.  There's another Australian member of the bar I adore: that cultured man of compassion, the erudite and articulate Mr Julian Burnside, who, in and beyond his impressive legal practice in Melbourne, works tirelessly to promote human rights.  Despite a large […]

Hicks ‘obviously innocent’ but with poor prospects

Michael Gawenda, former editor-in-chief of Melbourne's only broadsheet, The Age, and now its US correspondent, does not mince his words.  He describes David Hicks, that 30 year-old British-Australian on whose behalf I and many others have argued vigorously for a fair trial or else release from Camp Delta at Guantánamo Bay, as "obviously innocent." It […]

US allies fail David Hicks

Even Afghanistan insisted its citizens be released from Guantánamo.  Why is David Hicks, with dual British and Australian citizenship, still there after nearly five years?  Why is anyone still there after the decision of the US Supreme Court that the proposed military tribunals are unlawful?  Why is Australia still supporting the continued detention and attempts […]

Iran intensifies persecution of Bahá’ís

Attention to Iran's nuclear status has overshadowed its human rights record.  The UN has condemned Iran's treatment of Bahá'ís more than 56 times.  Now the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief has made public her grave concerns for members of the Bahá'í faith in Iran.  Opposition politician Jennie George has succeeded in […]