human rights news & views

Realising the right to education in Africa

School fees as low as 875 shillings ($US12) a year is enough to prevent millions of African children getting even a basic education. Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki made the first 8 years of school free in 2003 — including free textbooks — and the response has been tremendous. In that time, school enrolments have risen […]

China admits death-row organ trade

At least 1,770 people were executed in China last year — probably far more — and China’s Health Ministry and Foreign Ministry have admitted that organs of at least some of these people were harvested and transplanted into paying customers. BBC journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes has confirmed in undercover investigations what Canadians David Kilgour and David […]

Govts should ‘face down’ intolerant rhetoric on migrants: UN

UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, had this advice for governments at the UN High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development held in New York this month: Governments have to protect migrants against discrimination, racism and xenophobia, in particular by taking effective measures to protect migrants from human rights violations and abuse. It is also vital that Governments […]

A year’s drinking water for only $5

It’s hard to believe something so fundamental as water was not mentioned in any of the major human rights treaties until 1989. I guess earlier drafters took water for granted in a way that is now unthinkable. In addition to the explicit provision in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the right to […]

Honour Bound to defend freedom

Inspired by the extraordinary physical-theatre production called Honour Bound playing at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne until 1 October 2006, I here reproduce Guantánamo Bay detainee David Hicks’ affidavit describing his treatment while in US detention: DAVID M. HICKS, being duly sworn, deposes and says: 1. I am David M. Hicks, a Petitioner in the […]

Act for Australia: support the campaign

Australia needs better human rights protection. The Tongan Constitution of 1875 contains more rights than Australia’s 26 years later. By human rights standards, South Africa’s Constitution is without peer, but ‘entrenched’, constitutional bills of rights are not the only way of protecting rights. In recent years, the UK and Aotearoa/New Zealand have passed ordinary acts […]

Vanstone dodges the question: What happened to Nazaree and Baklri?

Have you received a reply from Australian Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone? I wrote to the Minister regarding the fate of Mohammed Moussa Nazaree and Yacoub Baklri, among others, and have received a reply from her Assistance Secretary (sic.), John Okely. His letter of 5 September makes no mention of Nazaree and Baklri, Afghan asylum seekers […]

Health crisis in eastern Burma

The Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT), a Thai NGO established by Burmese expats in 1998, provides primary health care and health education to rural and conflict-ridden areas of Burma. They have 70 teams of 2-5 health workers trying to meet the health needs of some 140,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the east of […]

Women’s rights key to saving baby girls

There are the moral and legal arguments in favour of human rights, which ought to be enough, but, let’s face it, sometimes it helps to come up with self-interested reasons for abusers to cease and desist and for governments to protect and promote. And in this geo-political clime, ‘national security’ is leverage par excellence. Here’s […]

Law enforcement to combat enforced disappearances

Vying for the honour of the first human rights treaty of the 21st century is the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. After 25 years of work, the text of the draft convention has been passed by the UN Human Rights Council and now awaits adoption at the General Assembly […]