Civil Liberties

A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come

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Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well. Anne Applebaum The Atlantic On December 31, 1999, we threw a party. It was the end of one millennium and the start of a new one; people very much wanted to celebrate, preferably somewhere exotic. Our party fulfilled that criterion. We held it at Chobielin, the manor house in northwest Poland that my husband ... Read More »

Podcast: The necessity of Indigenous constitutional recognition

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On this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Jerome Doraisamy is joined by Sydney-based barristers Simeon Beckett and Susan Phillips. In this episode, Mr Beckett and Ms Phillips explain why it is so important for the Australian constitution to acknowledge the First Nations peoples and what change will emerge as a result, why the Bar Associations are so supportive of such a change, and the role of member associations across our national legal profession on sociocultural or… Podcast: The necessity… Read More »

Dangerous Democracy: The Problem With ‘The Will Of The People’

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Westerners don’t really live in democracies, at least not ones where the true majority prevails, writes Stuart Rees. New Matilda Characters in Australia who advocate government by plebiscite think that such a voter mechanism would represent the will of the people and would therefore be truly democratic. A quick look at the political impasse in the ol’ mother country shows the absurdity of such thinking. To justify exiting Europe, Britain’s Brexit politicians keep repeating that they are following ‘the will ... Read More »

Jailing of Reuters journalists ‘nothing to do with freedom of expression’, says Aung San Suu Kyi

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Myanmar’s State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, says two jailed Reuters journalists can appeal their seven-year sentence, and that their jailing had nothing to do with freedom of expression. ABC Asked how she felt about jailing journalists as a democratic leader, Suu Kyi said: “They were not jailed because they were journalists, they were jailed because … the court has decided that they have broken the… She made her comments at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Hanoi on ... Read More »

Hungary’s Viktor Orban accuses EU of ‘abuse of power’

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The Hungarian premier has told EU lawmakers that Brussels’ actions against Budapest “violates the EU treaty.” Viktor Orban is facing pressure to correct measures that have undermined “fundamental values” of the EU. DW Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday told the European Parliament that potential disciplinary measures against his country are a “moral decision” that amounts to “abuse of power.” Under pressure from the European Commission, Orban is facing a vote that could see Hungary lose its voting rights in the bloc ... Read More »

Turkey Needs the EU—The Question Is How Much Its Relationship Will Cost

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European governments are currently witnessing a seemingly positive move by Turkey’s leadership toward the EU. Marc Pierini Carnegie Europe On the surface, this makes sense: Turkey’s economy is in very dire straits (and still depends on European markets and financial flows); the Lira is plummeting; hurtful sanctions have recently been imposed by the United States (and more may be coming); and Russia is having it its way in Syria (which… As a result, the Turkish foreign ministry is issuing statements. ... Read More »

Australian Catholic Church rejects calls for priests to report child abuse confessions

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Australia’s Catholic Church has rejected calls for priests to be compelled to report child abuse revealed in confessionals. By Euan McKirdy and Ben Westcott, CNN The Church said Friday it would accept “98%” of recommendations made by a high-level government inquiry into child sexual abuse, which uncovered shocking accounts of widespread abuse inside… But church leaders said that they would maintain the sanctity of confession, arguing to remove it would infringe on religious liberties. “The only recommendation we can’t accept ... Read More »

‘If I’ve got death threats, I’ve probably said something worthwhile’

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Sally Rugg remembers when she first realised “ordinary people” could create change. “When I was six or seven, the state government of WA was trying to build this huge road that would have gone through my primary school,” she recalls. Mary Ward The Canberra Times “So the community sort of banded together to save the school.” Two decades later, the LGBTI activist, best known as an instrumental figure in the Yes campaign during last year’s postal survey for marriage equality, ... Read More »

China Is Treating Islam Like a Mental Illness

A woman stands behind a pillar during the Eid al-Adha festival at Niujie mosque in Beijing, China September 12, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee - D1BEUAVHGQAA

The country is putting Muslims in internment camps—and causing real psychological damage in the process. Sigal Samuel The Atlantic One million Muslims are being held right now in Chinese internment camps, according to estimates cited by the UN and U.S. officials. Former inmates—most of whom are Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority—have told reporters that over the course of an indoctrination process lasting several months, they were forced to renounce Islam, criticize their own Islamic beliefs and those of fellow inmates, and recite Communist ... Read More »

Russia: Chechen Leader Threatens Human Rights Defenders

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International Rights Groups Urge Putin to Curb Kadyrov (Moscow) – Russian President Vladimir Putin should condemn recent statements by Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s leader, threatening human rights defenders, Human Rights Watch said today. HRW Kadyrov vowed to carry out collective punishment against families of alleged insurgents. In a joint open letter, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Front Line Defenders urged Putin to ensure that Kadyrov is not permitted to carry out his unlawful threats against human rights defenders and suspects’ ... Read More »

Euthanasia bill defeat: former territory leaders say Malcolm Fraser’s promise broken

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Paul Everingham says former prime minister had given him an undertaking not to override territory laws Ben Smee The Guardian Amid a fresh push to allow the territories to legalise euthanasia, the Northern Territory’s first chief minister and deputy have revealed – for the first time in more than 40 years – they were promised the… The Senate rejected on Wednesday night a bill from Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm to allow territories to pass their own laws on voluntary ... Read More »

Bans on full-face Muslim veils spread across Europe

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Washington: Earlier this month, Denmark became the fifth country in Europe to introduce a ban on face coverings in public places. Rebecca Tan The Age Washington Post The policy is widely viewed as being targeted at Muslim women who wear veils such as the niqab. Despite protests in the capital, Copenhagen, police have started enforcing the law in earnest. On August 3, a 28-year-old wearing the niqab, which covers the entire body except the eyes, was attacked by another Danish woman ... Read More »

New data access bill shows we need to get serious about privacy with independent oversight of the law

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The federal government today announced its proposed legislation to give law enforcement agencies yet more avenues to reach into our private lives through access to our personal communications and data. Greg Austin The Conversation This never-ending story of parliamentary bills defies logic, and is not offering the necessary oversight and protections. The trend has been led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with help from an ever-growing number of security ministers and senior officials. Could it be that the proliferation of ... Read More »

Argentina retains strict abortion laws by rejecting elective procedures

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Argentina’s decision to retain its stringent abortion laws has left Latin America and the Caribbean with some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. ABC Argentine senators this week narrowly rejected a bill to legalise abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, overcoming support for a surging abortion rights movement in the homeland of Pope Francis. The Senate’s 38-31 vote against the proposed legislation could echo across Latin America, where anti-abortion forces remains strong even if the ... Read More »

Are Turkey’s Christians as ‘fine’ as they say?

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As tensions simmered between Ankara and Washington over detained American pastor Andrew Brunson, the leaders of Turkey’s non-Muslim minorities issued a joint statement July 31 to deny that they faced any oppression in the country. Fehim Tastekin Al-Monitor The timing of the move was rather remarkable, and for Garo Paylan, an ethnic Armenian lawmaker for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the issuance of such a declaration was “in itself a proof that we are not free.” The 18 Christian and Jewish community leaders ... Read More »

Profit, not free speech, governs media companies’ decisions on controversy

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For decades, U.S. media companies have limited the content they’ve offered based on what’s good for business. The decisions by Apple, Spotify, Facebook and YouTube to remove content from commentator Alex Jones and his InfoWars platform follow this same pattern. Amanda Lotz The Conversation My research on media industries makes clear that government rules and regulations do little to limit what television shows, films, music albums, video games and social media content are available to the public. Business concerns about ... Read More »