Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s endorsement of Philip Ruddock’s appointment as Australia’s Special Envoy on Human Rights to the United Nations characterised him as “well-qualified to advocate and represent Australia’s human rights views and record”. The devil is in the accuracy of this statement. Over the past fifteen years, Australia has risen as a human rights violater to become an international pariah, with Ruddock entwined in many of the policies that have created this reputation. Indeed, the announcement came on the heels of the High Court legitimising offshore detention, a system of which Ruddock was one of the original architects, and which has been central to international criticism of Australia.
In 2004 there was a family living in Adelaide: the Bakhtiyaris. They were asylum seekers who had been through the mill of trauma: mother and five children in detention indefinitely; father initially in the community but put back in detention; a sixth child born under guard. People may remember them as two of the boys escaped the Woomera detention centre during a fracas sparked by Australian protesters, made their way to Melbourne and sought asylum at the British High Commission. Eventually an order by the Family Court saw the Bakhtiyari’s placed in the community under the care of a Church organisation, enabling the children to attend school and have some semblance of a normal life. However the dark cloud of detention and deportation remained over their heads. Continue reading “High Court offshore detention ruling highlights why Australia needs a Bill of Rights”
Like many people of my age (30s) with a large social acquaintance circle comprising a range of demographics, I have been exposed to a broad array of drug use and problems over the last decade or so, and I’m conscious of the ongoing discussions in society about the drugs issue.
I don’t support the “war on drugs” because I don’t think it works. There hasn’t been a reduction in illicit drug use or problems as a result of the weighty focus on law enforcement and it predominantly punishes individuals and small time or middle rung dealers while doing very little to combat manufacturers and distributors. An individual caught with ice ends up with a criminal conviction that impacts on future employment and relationships, only pushing them towards the drug again, while a supplier evades detection and, if caught, has the finances to hire legal expertise to limit conviction and sentencing, then returns to the same life they had beforehand. Ultimately, Continue reading “War on drugs: dogma rather than real solutions”
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s executions in Indonesia last week have naturally led to a debate about the AFPs involvement in the original arrest of the Bali 9 and what position should be taken in future. Much of this debate has centred around the acceptability in the context of the specific circumstances. The Bali 9 were bringing heroin to Australia, which most Australians find repugnant and which would potentially have led to the deaths of a number of Australians (plus the misery of many more). The AFP’s choice to provide information to the Indonesian National Police (INP) is then referenced to that, making it easier to excuse, tolerate or even endorse. However, the AFP’s actions should be seen independently of the Bali 9’s and more weight should be given to Australia’s stance on the death penalty.
Continue reading “Crime & Punishment: Australia’s values are collateral damage alongside the Bali 9 duo if we don’t stand firm on the death penalty”