Civil Rights

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 »

Tennessee carries out execution of Billy Ray Irick with controversial lethal injection drugs

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Tennessee has carried out the execution of a man condemned for the 1985 rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl, marking the first time the state has applied the death penalty in nearly a decade. ABC Inmate Billy Ray Irick, 59 — convicted in 1986 in the death of Paula Dyer, a Knoxville girl he was babysitting — was the first to receive a controversial new three-drug lethal cocktail. Irick had been a boarder in the home where the girl ... 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 »

My Health Record can store genomic data but critics say it’s not ready

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The federal government’s My Health Record system is capable of storing genomic information, such as a person’s genetic risk of developing cancer, which could turbocharge medical research but has intensified privacy and… Esther Han The Age Fairfax Media can reveal Sydney-based whole genome sequencing company Genome.One developed “necessary infrastructure” in order to upload highly sensitive genomic information onto My Health… The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), which for weeks has been deflecting privacy and… My Health Record… Read More »

Blood, soil and paper: Thailand’s mission to reduce statelessness

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Last month’s epic rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team from a cave in northern Thailand gripped the world. Janepicha Cheva-Isarakul The Conversation When it emerged that some of the boys are stateless, the news headlines changed in subtle ways from “Thai boys in the cave” to “boys in Thai cave”. Amid the widespread joy over the successful operation, the rescue has drawn attention to the broader issue of statelessness in Thailand. My research into the lives of stateless youth ... Read More »

Cambodia election ‘the end of the road for democracy’

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Phnom Penh: Cambodia’s Hun Sen is set to strengthen his iron grip on the prime ministership and extend his 33 years in power, after an election that rights groups and analysts suggest marks the “death of democracy” in the… James Massola & Nara Lon The Age With Reuters The United States, Japan, western European nations and Australia – which has largely avoided criticising Hun Sen’s regime in recent years – all declined to send election monitors to observe this poll and ... Read More »

Former vice mayor of China’s Lyuliang City sentenced to death for corruption

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Zhang Zhongsheng, former vice mayor of Lyuliang City in north China’s Shanxi Province, was sentenced to death on Wednesday for taking bribes, the Intermediate People’s Court of Linfen in Shanxi Province said. CGTN According to the court, Zhang received bribes in cash and property worth a total of 1.04 billion yuan (165 million US dollars) from 1997 to 2013. Apart from being sentenced to death, Zhang has also been deprived of all his political rights for life and all of ... Read More »

Farmers join gun control advocates in bid to mute ban on silencers for recreational shooters

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A proposal to end the ban on recreational shooters using gun silencers is set to go before Victorian Parliament. ABC Rural By Rachel Carbonell, National Regional Reporting Team The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party is introducing a private members’ bill which would make it legal for all licensed shooters to use silencers. Silencers, or suppressors as they are also known, reduce gunshot noise and are strictly controlled throughout Australia. Usually only specialists such as professional hunters and veterinarians are granted ... Read More »

How to reduce slavery in seafood supply chains

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Seafood is one of the most-traded foods in the world. The sector employs at least 260 million workers globally, and some 3 billion people rely on seafood as a primary source of protein. Trevor J Ward The Conversation The US State Department and other credible sources have consistently identified the seafood sector as a significant contributor to the global incidence of modern slavery. Widespread forced labour has been reported in the seafood industry in 47 countries. Part of the problem ... Read More »

Patriotic songs and self-criticism: why China is ‘re-educating’ Muslims in mass detention camps

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China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies their existence. But extensive reporting by international media and human rights groups indicates upwards of hundreds of thousands of Uighurs — a… The Conversation By Michael Clarke ABC The camps are not only massive, with some exceeding 10,000 square metres, but have also been likened to prison-like compounds, with, “reinforced security doors and windows, surveillance systems… The US Congressional-Executive Commission on China calls it, “The largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the ... Read More »

How an ex-Barcelona player’s legal liver transplant is focusing attention on the human organ trade

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In surely one of the most bizarre stories of recent weeks, former FC Barcelona president, Sandro Rosell, was forced to deny claims that he illegally purchased a human liver for ex-Barcelona defender Eric Abidal in 2012, after a report in Spanish newspaper El Confidencial claimed police had… Greg Moorlock The Conversation A statement by FC Barcelona flatly denied the allegations, and pointed out that a Catalan court had shelved an investigation into the matter in 2017. Further form denials were ... Read More »

Rare witness to horror of Stalin’s Gulag prisons dies

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A rare survivor of the harshest Stalin-era labour camps has died aged 89 in Russia’s far east. BBC Vasily Kovalyov had survived icy punishment cells and beatings in the USSR’s notorious Gulag prison system. During an escape attempt in 1954 he spent five months hiding in a freezing mine with two other prisoners. Kovalyov’s story was featured in Vesma, a news site based in Magadan. The communist regime shipped thousands of “enemies” to prison camps via Magadan. In 1950 Kovalyov, ... Read More »

Vietnam: Clean Up Abysmal Rights Record

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Past UN Member Recommendations Ignored © 2018 Reuters/Kham HRW (Geneva) – Vietnam’s government should release all political prisoners and uphold its pledges to respect basic civil and political rights, Human Rights Watch said in a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Vietnam will be appearing before the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in January 2019. During its 2014 UPR review, Vietnam accepted 182 out of 227 recommendations it received from UN member countries. Since then, the Vietnamese government ... Read More »

Why Vietnam is quitting Facebook

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Activists, dissidents and writers are gravitating to other social media platforms as Facebook appears to acquiesce to government censorship demands David Hutt Asia Times When logging onto Minds, an open-source social media platform, it is hard to miss the huge number of posts written in Vietnamese. Of the platform’s over one million users, about 10% hail from Vietnam, according to recent media reports. What’s more, roughly 100,000 of those Vietnamese users signed up in the period of just one week, ... Read More »