human rights news & views

Indigenous ‘nomad’ died in custody

Amnesty International called it "shocking and preventable."  On 27 January 2008, Australian indigenous leader and land rights activist Ian Ward — "one of the last nomads born in the Gibson Desert" — died in custody. The Warburton man was being driven 915km from Laverton in the Western Desert to Kalgoorlie for a mention in relation […]

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 […]

Maternal deaths catastrophic & avoidable: UN

"The scale of maternal mortality is catastrophic. Every minute a woman dies in childbirth or from complications of pregnancy. . . well over 500,000 women a year. 95% are in Africa and Asia. . . This is global health inequality on a shocking scale. For every woman who dies, as many as 30 others suffer […]

New commitment to ending child soldiers

Recruiting child soldiers under the age of 18 is a crime under international law. Recruiting children under the age of 15 is a war crime. The International Criminal Court‘s first trial will be that of DRC warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, charged with recruiting child soldiers as young as 10. The term ‘child soldier’ refers to […]

Investment in cluster bombs outlawed in Belgium

Advancing the global campaign against explosive remnants of war, Belgium has taken the unprecedented step of banning investment in companies that manufacture cluster bombs. Belgium banned the weapon itself a year ago. Cluster munitions spread ‘bomblets’ — hundreds or thousands at a time — over wide areas from 1 to 20 square kilometres. Unlike landmines, […]

Ronald Ryan dead 40 years: A call to action

It’s 40 years since Australia executed anyone. Forty years ago today a flock of pigeons took flight from the roof of Pentridge Gaol in Melbourne when the gallows trap crashed open under Ronald Ryan’s feet. He was, and may he remain, the last person executed in Australia. On this bleak anniversary Lex Lasry QC reminds […]

We are all Hrant Dink

Ethnic-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has been shot dead in broad daylight outside his newspaper office in Istanbul. Turkish authorities have condemned the killing. Respected editor and columnist, 52 year-old Dink had faced death threats and legal action for his views on the 1915-18 genocide of Armenians under the Ottoman empire. And yet he was an […]

35,000 Iraqi civilians killed in 2006

Nearly 35,000 civilians were killed in Iraq last year, according to the UN. It’s an astonishing but unsurprising figure, given the daily reports of carnage. As the United States mourns the death of over 3,000 of its troops sent to Iraq since the 2003 invasion, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq reports 34,452 civilians were […]

Worst year ever for journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says 84 journalists were killed worldwide in 2006. Include media support staff such as interpreters and drivers, and that figure climbs to 177, the worst on record. At least 155 of those were murders and unexplained deaths, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the remaining 22 being […]

‘The most violent place in Asia’

Extra-judicial killings are a major source of human rights violation in Asia, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), and, of eleven countries reviewed in the Commission’s 2006 Report on human rights in the region, Sri Lanka is the worst. On this second anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami, reconstruction in the north-east of […]