Civil Liberties

Aus must preserve legal protections despite real threat of terrorism, academic warns

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A Victorian-based professor of law has warned that national counterterrorism measures should not erode the “essential tenets” of Australia’s legal system. Melissa Coade Lawyers Weekly Days after the arrest of a man alleged to have been planning a New Year’s terrorist attack in Melbourne last week, Deakin University’s Professor Sandeep Gopalan has called for caution in the way that laws and institutions are adapted to respond to the national threat of terrorism. “The risk that lone-wolf actors – inspired by ... Read More »

Turkey jails activist couple of Armenian origin for social media posts

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Two political activists of Armenian origin have recently been arrested by Turkish police due to social media posts that were critical of the Turkish government Uzay Bulut Providence An author and environmental activist, Cemil Aksu, was arrested on October 25 in the city of Artvin for allegedly “praising crime and criminals” in his social media posts. Aksu is the local co-chair of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and is one of the editors of the Gor-Hemshin cultural magazine. His wife, Nurcan Vayiç Aksu, ... Read More »

Egypt jails 14 for homosexuality

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An Egyptian court on Nov. 26 sentenced 14 men convicted of being homosexuals to three years in jail each for “abnormal” sexual relations, a defence lawyer said. Cairo – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet Ishaq Wadie said the men were released on bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($283, 230 euros) each until an appeals trial. The trial of three other suspects was delayed over procedural reasons, the lawyer said. Homosexuality is not expressly outlawed in Egypt, but gays have previously been charged ... Read More »

Boochani arrest is an attack on press freedom

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MEAA, the union for Australian media workers, stands in solidarity with Iranian-Kurdish journalist and regular contributor to Australian publications, Behrouz Boochani, who has reportedly been arrested today on Manus Island. MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy said Boochani appeared to have been deliberately targeted by Papua New Guinea police in today’s crackdown because of his high-profile as a journalist reporting from inside the detention centre. “Behrouz has been one of the main sources of factual information about conditions inside the Manus ... Read More »

Victoria poised to become first Australian state to legalise assisted dying after historic vote

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Assisted dying bill passes upper house, paving the way for it to be confirmed by lower house and passed into law Gay Alcorn The Guardian Victoria is on the verge of becoming the first Australian state to legalise voluntary assisted dying, after the upper house finally approved the right of terminally ill people to request assistance to end their lives. The historic bill was passed by 22 votes to 18 after a gruelling and often bitter all-night debate. The chamber began ... Read More »

Erasing modern slavery is a slow process, but it catches on in Australia

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An important part of any legislation would require businesses to report what goes on in their supply chains And already, the battle lines are drawn Richard Ackland The Guardian Quite smartly human rights are back on the front page, thanks to Wednesday’s outcome of the voluntary postal survey on marriage equality. It should pave the way to a bigger infusion of rights, with the next milestone a Human Rights Act for the entire nation. Possibly, there would have been no ... Read More »

‘Yes’ campaign must keep its promises after 5 million people voted ‘No’ in same-sex marria

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Five million Australians is the number of people who voted “no” in the postal survey for the same reasons I did – because we are concerned about the impact on basic freedoms of speech, conscience and religion – freedoms that we expect to be upheld in our democratic country in accordance with human rights… Karina Okotel * The Canberra Times What has surprised me following the postal survey results is the “yes” campaign’s sudden turnaround to effectively ignore the need ... Read More »

What To Do When Racists Try To Hijack Your Religion

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White supremacists are coopting Norse heathen symbols. Should the heathens ignore them? Protest them? Sigal Samuel Create a new theology? The Atlantic As white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, the high priest of a pagan religion looked on with horror from Reykjavik, Iceland. It wasn’t just their racist message that bothered him. It was that their banners bore the symbols of his religion: Ásatrú, also known as heathenry. “I think it’s obscene,” the high priest, Hilmar Hilmarsson, said of the way ... Read More »

Australian Corporate Accountability Network Launches

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A group of civil society organisations, academics and individuals working to promote accountability and respect for human rights by Australian businesses, has launched the Australian Corporate Accountability Network. PBA – Lina Caneva The ACAN network, funded by an RMIT University grant as part of the university’s commitment to fostering responsible business, had its official launch in Melbourne last week. Keren Adams, director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, which is supporting the network’s establishment, told Pro Bono News the ... Read More »

A War of Words Puts Facebook at the Center of Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis

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Myanmar’s government has barred Ashin Wirathu, an ultranationalist Buddhist monk, from public preaching for the past year, saying his speeches helped fuel the violence against the country’s Rohingya ethnic group that the United Nations calls ethnic cleansing. Megan Specia and Paul Mozur The New York Times So he has turned to an even more powerful and ubiquitous platform to get his message out — Facebook. Every day he posts updates, often containing false information, that spread a narrative of the ... Read More »

High court proves we have free speech against environmental wreckers

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Adani and the loggers should watch out – we have a right to peaceful protest to protect our environment Bob Brown The Guardian The high court has drawn a line in the sand against laws which burden the right of Australians to peaceful protest. The court made no judgement on Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman’s decision to flatten the Lapoinya state forest in northwest Tasmania against the wishes of the local community. But it struck down his Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) ... Read More »

US, France slam detention of leading Turkish activist Osman Kavala

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U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert has said the arrest of the prominent activist and businessman Osman Kavala was an example of a “very alarming trend” of the detention of civil society leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, academics and… Hurriyet “We have expressed to the Turkish government our concerns on many occasions about this trend … It remains a major concern of ours,” Nauert told reporters in Washington on… The French Foreign Ministry also stated on Oct. 19 that it ... Read More »

The Church’s child abuse record doesn’t disqualify it from opposing same-sex marriage

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Author Anna Krien’s recent condemnation of the church’s apparent hypocrisy (The Age, 17/10) in arguing that heterosexual marriage is best for children while being guilty of failing to address historical child abuse appears convincing Kevin Donnelly Brisbane Times A closer reading, though, reveals it for what it is. While Krien’s argument is emotionally persuasive she fails to provide a rational argument linking the two. Yes, the church clearly opposes same-sex marriage but to simply dismiss its arguments because of its ... Read More »

The Prophet of Germany’s New Right

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From a tiny village in the country’s rural east, a leading nationalist intellectual builds a vision for the future of his movement across Europe. James Angelos The New York Times Götz Kubitschek, a self-proclaimed “rightist intellectual,” lives in a medieval manor house in Schnellroda, a rural village in eastern Germany. From this isolated, antique outpost, Kubitschek, who is 47, wields considerable influence over far-right thinkers, activists and politicians across Germany, who make regular pilgrimages to Schnellroda for an audience with ... Read More »

Would these people get help to die under Victoria’s proposed euthanasia laws?

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Would these people get help toIt could soon be legal to help some terminally ill Victorians die Our state MPs are expected to hold a conscience vote in mid-October on whether to allow voluntary assisted dying in certain circumstances. The Age The proposed laws are, in part, based on the findings of an independent panel of medical experts on when people should be given the right to die. We asked the panel’s chair, Professor Brian Owler, what would happen in six hypothetical ... Read More »

Let’s face it, we’ll be no safer with a national facial recognition database

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A commitment to share the biometric data of most Australians – including your driving licence photo – agreed at Thursday’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting will result in a further erosion of our privacy. That sharing is not necessary. It will be costly. Bruce Baer Arnold The Conversation But will it save us from terrorism? Not all, although it will give people a false sense of comfort. Importantly, it will allow politicians and officials to show that they are ... Read More »