January 25, 2005

Habib the unproven criminal

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:14 am by thelawthoughts

SMH reports here that Habib won’t be able to sell his detention story to the media, under legislation designed to seize the assets of criminals. Probably a good piece of legislation – I must confess to not having read it myself. My immediate reaction to this was – he is not a criminal.

Why was Habib released? Because there was not a skerrick of evidence to show he did anything criminal. If he is a terrorist, I hope they charge him and punish him accordingly, because we cannot allow terrorism to prosper. However, he has not been shown to have done anything wrong.

The government can’t say – ‘Look, we can’t even think what to charge you with, unlike that Mr. Hicks – we at least could make something up in his case. So, we are going to let you out – but don’t sell the story because you are a criminal and we are allowed to seize the assets of criminals’. Does that seem a bit ridiculous?

More here


January 24, 2005

Dangerous Cycling

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:17 pm by thelawthoughts

With all the recent discussion about the perils of driving as an inexperienced youngster, something which gets lost in the noise is the danger in which cyclists place pedestrians. I have blogged on this before, however it is something which causes me great alarm.

This morning, at the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale Streets, in Melbourne’s CBD, I was waiting for my tram, which had come to a stop. I stepped out onto the road, which at that time of the morning is closed to motor traffic, apart from emergency services, trams, couriers, taxis etc. However, it is not closed to cyclists, even though they are deemed motor vehicles.

As I stepped out, a girl on a bike rode straight through the group of pedestrians in which I was standing, without making a noise to alert us, or better still, getting off her bike and walking it. Now, I understand bikes don’t travel at high speed. However, given they are deemed as motor vehicles, why do they persist in running red lights, or riding through tram stops when a tram is stopped?

It is time cyclists were made aware that they are not the only ones endangered by their presence on the roads. Yes, they are endangered by cars. However, they create similar danger to pedestrains, who are entitled to expect that they behave according to rules applicable to motor cars. How about some public education for these riders, who obviously have no idea of how they are meant to behave?

January 21, 2005

The man in the mask

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:20 pm by thelawthoughts

Why didn’t this guy plead insanity? At least he would be in a mental institution, rather than the big house.

No more war!

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:52 am by thelawthoughts

Sure, Alexander… Did George tell you to say that? The administration’s fight against tyranny is predicated on war. War on terror. War on Iraq. War on Iran?

Indian compliance with WTO patent regime

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:16 am by thelawthoughts

Even though India was meant to comply with the WTO’s patent regime by 1 January, 2005, this decision in Madras compelled patent holders of certain cancer drugs (sorry, don’t know much about the facts) to continue to supply that drug to patients who had been receiving it prior to the January deadline. Although this is probably not in direct defiance of TRIPs rules, it nevertheless is a hopeful sign that provisions of TRIPs which allow this kind of activity may be upheld more often.

This must be a step forward for access to life saving medicines in developing countries. Although I haven’t seen the decision, the article sounds like it was made on the basis of ‘public interest’, which sounds like compulsory licensing under TRIPs. Usually when this is attempted, drug companies react with all their might and refuse to supply patented drugs.

Maybe this Indian court has told the drug companies to stuff off. Maybe they have said enough is enough, and that saving lives of people too poor to pay for these drugs is more important than the profitability of drug companies operating in India. Wishful thinking??

Google and trade mark infringement

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:19 am by thelawthoughts

Interesting case just decided in a French court. As I understand these things, Google makes truckloads of money from advertisers who buy space on the ad bar whenever someone types in the particular search term the advertiser has bought.

In this case, if the particular search term being bought is a trade mark, this constitutes infringement. So, if I were the ad agency for ‘Happy Cola’ and I bought space when someone searched ‘Coke’, I would be guilty of trade mark infringement and dilution.

Following the links in that article, this was not the view taken in a Viriginian Court. In America, it remains perfectly ok to do this.

It will be interesting to see which view emerges dominant, as Google could lose a fortune if it cannot link to any trade marked word or phrase.

‘I was just following orders’

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:05 am by thelawthoughts

First, it was German soldiers in the Nuremberg trials. Now, its American and British soldiers in Baghdad and Basra, where they ‘had’ to abuse those detainees. In forcing Iraqi ‘Prisoners of War’ and ‘terrorists’ to eat meat which their religion forbids, simulate sexual acts, or just be piled on top of one another or routinely beaten, these ‘honourable’ soldiers were just doing their job, just following orders.

When will these twits, and their defence lawyers for that matter, realise this is just not good enough? It is a defence that will not stand, even in an American court martial. It seems obvious to me that these soldiers are pigs. To try and get a soldier off a charge like that by forwarding a defence of following orders is a grubby way to conduct a defence. ‘Yes, I beat the crap out of that guy, but Rummy told me to, so it’s ok’. What a load of rubbish.

Anyone found guilty of this kind of behaviour should be subjected to severe sanctions. It will never be good enough to defend oneself with a plea of ‘following orders’. Although, if these are coming from Rummy, George Dubya and Gonzales, why aren’t they being sanctioned as well?? Oh, that’s right, the election was their ‘accountability moment’, at least according to George Bush. Because their actions were supported by the American people, they shouldn’t have to resign.

January 13, 2005

Illegal fishermen detention

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:32 am by thelawthoughts

How come we never hear about stuff like this? Apparently, we are going to use old detention centres for the detention of ‘illegal’ fishermen off our northern coast.

Who defines ‘illegal’? JUDGES. NOT THE POLICE OR COAST GUARD. To prevent people breaking law in our territorial waters is fine, but to lock them up in a specialised facility seems like a waste of time and money. If someone needs to be arrested, send them to Darwin and a proper court hearing. This policy sounds suspiciously like the Executive deciding guilt and locking a person up indefinitely.

My concern is that those court ‘breaking the law’ (think illegal asylum seekers) will be processed within six weeks. That’s what they said about refugees too, and look what happened there. We need to process cases as quickly as possible and my fear is that once people are locked up in old huts in the desert, they will quickly be forgotten and forsaken.

If after being found guilty of a criminal offence, these fishermen will be placed in ‘normal correctional facilities’, why not place them there to start with?

January 11, 2005

Italian smoking ban

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:50 am by thelawthoughts

Interesting to see, here, that Italian smoking bans have come into force, with 75% support amongst the Italian population.

I am a firm believer in the ‘I don’t care if you smoke, just not near me’ school of thought. As I have said before, I am happy for people such as Antonio Martino, the defence Minister, to assert their ‘sacred right’ to smoke. Just do it in your own house.

If a country where ‘espresso and cigarettes at the local coffee bar’ is a ‘daily ritual’ can introduce smoking bans, how hard can it be for Victoria? The Italian ban allows smoking in public places, which I do not support, as it is just as bad standing next to a smoker on the street. However, this is a good start and a useful model for Victorian legislators to use.

The move towards a reduction in people being forced to passive smoke can only be a good thing.

Cheerleading torture

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:56 am by thelawthoughts

The BBC reports here that in argument over the nature of ‘control methods’ used in Abu Gharib, human pyramids and tethers are valid to control prisoners and are not methods of torture.

According to the lawyer, forcing prisoners to form human pyramids is ok, because cheerleaders do it and they are not being tortured. Surely their consent has something to do with this. Silly as they are, if cheerleaders want to climb on each other, indeed, that is not torture. They are consenting to the behaviour. Prisoners forced to climb on each other, especially when combined with the other methods of ‘control’ we are discovering were used at Abu Gharib, are most defintely not consenting. To forward this argument is plain silly.

Also, apparently it is ok to move prisoners around on a leash, because parents in airports do the same to their children. Oh, so this makes leashing people ok? Maybe parents who treat their children like dogs should be subject to some sort of prosecution also. What about, in American terms, cruel and unusual punishment?

The argument is completely inverted. It is not ok for parents to leash their children, nor US soldiers to leash prisoners. It is unthinkable to argue that because parents leash their kids, soliders should be able to do the same. Maybe some of the soldiers should be leashed, let’s see how they like it.