human rights news & views

Irish peace activist’s conviction overturned

On 29 January 2003, Mary Kelly, a 50 year-old Irish nurse, climbed a fence in broad daylight at Shannon airport in the west of the Republic of Ireland and 'disarmed' a US Navy warplane with an axe. "Fully aware of the consequences" — up to 10 years' imprisonment — the mother-of-four 'smashed' the plane's nose-cone […]

Pacifists make judge stop and think

You could hardly ask for a more peaceful protest.  Last year 14 anti-war demonstrators walked onto Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, USA, seeking to hand-deliver a letter protesting the use of drones. Drones — known in military jargon as 'unmanned aerial vehicles' — are miniature flying machines with no pilot or crew on board […]

What is the rule of law?

One hears much about the rule of law and its importance to human rights.  But what is it, exactly?  I thank Prof. Tim McCormack for bringing this succinct definition to my attention.  It comes from a 2004 report by the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council: The “rule of law” . . . refers to […]

Australia’s position on Hicks ‘disingenuous & grossly inaccurate’

Former chief justice Alastair Nicholson has written a scathing rebuttal of Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock’s defence of his government’s abandonment of David Hicks, the Australian citizen still imprisoned by the US at Guantánamo Bay after more than five years. Nicholson’s point, made clearly and authoritatively, is that Hicks cannot get a fair trial by US […]

Don’t hang Saddam

Some three years after his capture, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been convicted and sentenced by the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal in connection with the killing of 148 people from a Shiite village called al-Dujail in 1982, apparently in revenge for an assassination attempt. Saddam Hussein and his co-accused ought not to be executed […]

Australian Govt ordered to reveal secret security assessments

Congratulations to Scott Parkin (pictured), Mohammed Sagar and Muhammed Faisal, who today won their bid to find out what the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has against them. The Federal Court has decided that they are entitled to know the reason why, in Parkin’s case, he was thrown out of the country, and in the case […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]