human rights news & views

Slavery conviction upheld

The extraordinary struggle of five survivors of human trafficking and sexual slavery culminated last week in victory in Australia's highest court. After years of legal wrangling, six judges of the High Court upheld a brothel owner's conviction and 10-year goal sentence for slavery. A police raid on a legal brothel in inner Melbourne in 2003 […]

Gender equality at the UN

With only 2 sleeps to go until International Women’s Day, I’d like to quote at some length an article by Human Rights Watch‘s Marianne Mollmann in The Huffington Post: The United Nations was created in 1945 with a stated objective to put into practice the shared principle that men and women are absolute equals. Since […]

Three more Bosnian Serbs arrested for crimes against humanity

Three Bosnian Serbs were arrested last week accused of crimes against humanity committed in 1992.  Veljko Basic, 82, Predrag Bastah, 55, and Goran Viskovic, 54, are being questioned by Bosnian authorities regarding crimes committed in Susica camp in the town of Vlasenica in northeastern Bosnia. Some 8,000 local civilians, mostly Muslims, were held in the […]

A new champion for children

The United Nations has sharpened its focus on combating violence against children with the creation last month of a new Special Procedure.  This independent world expert will be called Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children. The job of this Special Representative, for an initial term of 3 years, will include maintaining international […]

Stop violence against women

Women the world over share a one-in-three risk of physical or sexual abuse, with rates reaching 70% in some countries. In Australia, over 400,000 men were violent towards women in 2005.  Almost 1.3 million Australian women have experienced physical and sexual violence from a current or former partner. Women are at risk of violence in […]

‘Intermediaries’ charged over Politkovskaya murder

A year after the assassination of esteemed Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, nine people have been charged with involvement in the murder. One of them is a lieutenant-colonel in Russia’s secret service.  It is alleged Pavel Ryaguzov gave Politkovskaya’s home address to another of the suspects, who in turn gave it to her killer.  The 48 […]

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 […]

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 […]