Bernard Collaery was once the Attorney-General of the Australian Capital Territory but he now finds himself seated in the dock in that jurisdiction along with his client, a former officer of the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIS), known as Witness K. Mr Collaery and Witness K have been charged with allegedly breaching section 39 of the Federal Intelligence Services Act 2001, which makes it an offence to communicate “any information or matter that was acquired or prepared by or on behalf of ASIS in connection with its functions or relates to the performance by ASIS of its functions.” The matter is being dealt with in the ACT Magistrates Court and carries a maximum penalty of 2 years.
It is curious that people who were so insistent on privacy in their ordinary lives, the British, should have been so neglectful in developing effective judicial and other legal rules for its protection. Nowhere was this irony more noticeable than in the Australian outposts of the British Empire.
The ability of an applicant for refugee status to relocate within their country of origin to escape persecution forms the basis of an important concept in international refugee law, known variously as the “internal relocation alternative”, “internal flight alternative”, “subsidiary protection” or “humanitarian protection”. The concept provides that if internal relocation is relevant and reasonable, the applicant is not a refugee. The concept is not codified in the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, however, it is relevant to the question of whether the applicant meets the definition of “refugee” as set out in Art 1A(2) of the Convention, as being any person who:
Close to twenty years after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials entered into force, significant reform of Australia’s anti-bribery architecture is underway. Parliamentary debate over the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Corporate Crime) Bill 2017 (Cth) (the Bill) is anticipated during the next half of 2018. With an anti-bribery focus, the Bill presents an opportunity for Australia to play a greater role in the global fight against corruption and its pernicious effect on fair business and basic human rights. Sentiments expressed by Kofi Annan on the adoption of the 2003 UN Convention against Corruption are no less pertinent today. Imploring all nations, prosperous and less prosperous, to cooperate against corruption, the then Secretary-General noted that it ‘hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice, and discouraging foreign investment and aid’. Relatedly, bribery and corruption stagnates the rule of law and breeds distrust in government institutions.
The recent success of the conciliation between Timor-Leste and Australia has put a spotlight on alternative dispute resolution in international law, a far cry from the disappointments of the South China Sea arbitration in which China refused to participate. In the context of these recent developments, this article will explore the philosophy, popularity and possibilities of alternative dispute resolution in international law.
In an interview with Guardian Australia, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has voiced his opinion that ‘like-minded nations’ should consider a revision of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (“the Convention”). The objective of such a revision would be (though he has not explicitly said so) to degrade the non-refoulement obligation, which provides that States cannot expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. It is the cornerstone to refugee protection and the subject of the vast majority of refugee-related litigation globally.
Victoria has recently become the latest jurisdiction to legalise assisted dying (a term employed here as a ‘catchall’ phrase intended to cover both assisted suicide and euthanasia). It joins Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the US States of California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, and the District of Columbia, which have all introduced legislation permitting some form of assisted death.
Missing from this list are jurisdictions such as Switzerland in which assisted suicide is not unlawful but is also not expressly permitted by legislation. This might come as a surprise, as Switzerland is widely recognised as a jurisdiction that allows assisted suicide, largely as a result of organisations such as Dignitas which provide assistance to residents and non-residents in dying by suicide. In Switzerland, however, there is no legislation akin to Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (‘VAD’). Rather, art 115 of the Swiss Penal Code criminalises assisting or inciting another’s suicide based on ‘selfish motives’. Thus, provided the assistance is not so motivated, it may be given without risk of prosecution.
In his address at the opening of the current session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), the High Commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Husseini announced that, since this would be his last address as High Commissioner, he was going to be blunt – and indeed blunt he was.
His first target was the permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council (SC) and the ‘pernicious use of the veto’, which made those who used it responsible, ‘second to those who are criminally responsible … for the continuation of so much pain … it is they – the permanent members – who must answer before the victims’.
With the development of peer-to-peer networks and the dark web (a sub set of the deep web), child abuse activities are now mostly occurring in anonymous and encrypted environments largely out of reach of law enforcement bodies. Images are stored by the terabytes on personal hard drives and shared by the millions. For some people the anonymity seems to have ignited what may previously have been latent tendencies. (Understanding and Preventing Online Sexual Exploitation of Children, Edited by Ethel Quayle and Kurt M. Ribisl. 2012 Routledge. Chapter 11, ‘Situational prevention of child abuse in the new technologies’. Richard Wortley, Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, University College London. Introduction.) Fueling the problem and driving it to new almost unthinkable dimensions is the issue of desensitisation and destabilisation. (Heather Wood, Internet pornography and paedophilia, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, (2013) 27:4, 319-338)
It has been estimated that each year, approximately 25 million unsafe abortions take place. This number represents nearly half of all abortions undertaken worldwide. Almost all unsafe abortions occur in developing countries, where around 7 million women annually are hospitalised following terminations performed without the assistance of a trained health worker and in other conditions that place women at risk. Whether abortion is legal and accessible play an enormous role in determining whether a woman will have to take this route to end an unwanted pregnancy.
It is undeniable that the right to life represents a fundamental building block to achievement of all other human rights, but where argument tends to arise is in asking in whom this right accrues. The question of when life begins, considered from scientific, legal, philosophical and religious perspectives, yields a variety of answers, none of which is definitive. Yet, while this may be an interesting philosophical debate, for women seeking to terminate unwanted pregnancies the discord becomes tangible. Throughout the world women’s bodies are the subject of government intervention in the form of how society deals with the legality and practicalities of abortion. While some regimes are highly permissive, treating abortion as an issue of women’s health, others are restrictive to the point of harm, to the extent that a woman may be convicted of a crime for having suffered a miscarriage.