human rights news & views

Trust us, we’re the Government

Australians are asked to trust their government. Despite evidence of government lies — in matters as grave as whether to wage war — Australians are expected to trust that the government knows what’s best for them and will act in their interests, all the while violating rights and withholding evidence. Three recent stories illustrate the […]

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 […]

War propaganda: a forgotten rights violation

You may be unwittingly suffering an infringement of your human rights. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), drafted during the Cold War, states that "any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law." The 152 countries that are a party to this treaty must legislate against war propaganda as "contrary to public […]

Demand justice for Hicks

I heard David Hicks’ defence lawyer, the affable Major Michael (Dan) Mori, speak in Melbourne today and (updating a previous post) he mentioned that Hicks’ British citizenship was revoked shortly after it was granted. Mori is pressing to have it restored. Mori emphasised the importance, in so politicised a case, of the Australian public (and […]

Innocents in jeopardy

There’s a venerable principle of criminal law that seems to be turning on its head in Western democracies, and a number of human rights along with it. The principal begins with an acceptance of the fact that no system of criminal justice will ever be inerrant. There will always be wrongful convictions and wrongful acquittals. […]

Israeli exceptionalism

Dr Andrew Vincent, Director of the Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney said recently after a trip to Lebanon: "What we’re seeing at the moment is a massive attack on a neigbouring country. Now just imagine if an Arab country was attacking another Arab country: destroying its infrastructure, […]

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 […]