September 26, 2005

Dodging Justice??

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:04 pm by thelawthoughts

Alexander Downer, our wonderful Foreign Minister, thinks David Hicks is ‘dodging justice’ by applying for British citizenship, which would likely get him out of Gitmo.

Said without a trace of irony, mind you. I thought Downer had more compassion than the rest of the gits in office at the moment. Unfortunately, it is comments like these which lose him the respect of anyone remotely concerned about human rights.


Sperm Ships

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:13 am by thelawthoughts

I am too tired to make much of this, but surely this is a shining example of why we should aim to eliminate regulatory arbitrage.

I haven’t looked into the actual laws around this, but the Beeb reports that anonymity of sperm donors is being removed. Ergo, less sperm donors (I know if that were me, I would not do it at all, but if I had to, I would at least want to be anonymous!!). So, the Dutch, who refrain from revealing the identity of a father, can fly their flag on a ship in international waters, and have people come from the UK to give sperm anonymously.

My question is: WHY? I assume it is to allow greater flexibility in treatment, which does not seem to match the general idea of preserving anonymity of the father. The story doesn’t quite make sense.

However, my original point remains. Surely, we are better off eliminating as much of this type of regulation as possible. Otherwise, people by nature seek out a jurisdiction with more favourable rules. It reminds me very much of the back yard abortion argument – make it illegal – drive it underground. The same applies here. Why not just let people who want to donate sperm choose whether they reveal their identity? Why not just let people who want a baby have one? People willing to go through fertility treatment, so I hear, bloody well deserve that baby in the end and I imagine provide just as much, if not more, love than any ‘normal’ couple.

If nothing else, at least then we can see what is going on, rather than have to sit at Portsmouth with a set of binoculars, looking towards the Sperm Ship on the horizon.

September 23, 2005

Illegal iPodding

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:06 pm by thelawthoughts

Quantum Meruit is, rightly, stinging.

I love how the Herald-Sun presents itself as the ‘Newspaper of the Year’. I mean, if you want to know about cats up trees, great. However, if you want real news, it takes them two years to get it out there. How long have we had iPods?

If you need to investigate whether iPods are illegal here, you are obviously not doing any day-to-day investigative journalism. I would have thought it was reasonably common knowledge, but there you go. It’s not even like Kazaa was decided yesterday, and that piece could be run as NEWS.

Pardon me, but it is quite amazing.

Violence against children

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:29 am by thelawthoughts

UN Pulse, a blog operated by the UN Library service, directs us to the recent report on Violence Against Children.

Essentially, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro was asked by the GA to report at the 60th Session on violence against children in a number of situations.

His study method is outlined here. His progess report on his study , made to the Human Rights Commission, is here. As part of his study, he sent a questionnaire to governments, 87 of which responded. Their responses are available for download on the UHCHR website here.

Without providing much in the way of susbtantive results, the report nevertheless highlights the large range of stakeholders who are being involved in this process. He has met with the ILO, UNICEF, WHO, OHCHR and is attempting to get human rights bodies involved as well.

The outline of the study is provided, and it is worth reproducing here in full:

  1. Introduction and overview (background information and models for understanding the global context of the situation and conditions in which children live and how they affect children’s vulnerability to violence – including culture, language, ethnicity, disability and gender – and the impact of violence on children’s development).
  2. Overview of State obligations, legal frameworks and agreements to promote prevention of violence and responses to protect children from violence.
  3. Violence against children in the home and in the family.
  4. Violence against children in schools and educational settings.
  5. Violence against children in other institutional settings (orphanages, etc) including children in conflict with the law.
  6. Violence against children in the community and on the streets.
  7. Violence against children in work situations.
  8. Conclusions and recommendations etc.

It seems every attempt will be made in this study to cover the field, and it is not receiving as much attention as it possibly should. Children are by their nature more vulnerable to violence in society than just about any group I can think of. They are vulnerable to violence at work, in schools and at home. They are recruited into armies and forced to fight. They are subjected to sexual slavery and trafficking.

It is wonderful that the UN is paying a good deal of attention to this problem. It is great that universities are beginning to teach subjects such as Children’s Rights. It is time more attention was paid to this deeply destructive problem.

September 17, 2005

It is Time to Speak Up

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:56 am by thelawthoughts

I have heard this before, but I am going to copy this post in full, via and IsThatLegal?:

And When The Came For Me…

Once again, a “what he said” reference to Eric Muller at for Is That Legal?: I Propose The Government Maintain a List of Everyone Who Eats Baba Ghanouj

Massachusetts governor (and 2008 Republican presidential candidate) Mitt Romney seeks the wiretapping of mosques.

Naturally, the Boston Globe article reporting on this charming proposal casts those alarmed by the proposal as “civil libertarians” and “immigrants’ rights advocates.”

Have we really reached the point where it’s just “civil libertarians” who get nervous when powerful politicians propose the suspicionless wiretapping of houses of worship?

Remember this?In Germany, the Nazis first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics, but I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me…By that time there was no one to speak up for anyone.

–Reverend Martin Niemoller

What a beautiful quote. Julian Burnside, when discussing Australia’s human rights violations at the Writers’ Festival recently, made a similar point. He gestured to the assembled audience and said, “By the time YOUR rights [ie solid middle class thinking kind of people] are violated, IT IS TOO LATE”. I can’t put it any better than that.

Australia is descending slowly but steadily into a police State. We keep tightening our immigration rules – an interesting incident this week cancelled the Visas of 8000 university students for goodness sake. Yes, it was accidental, but what is the point in this kind of behaviour?

Our High Court found in Al-Kateb v Godwin (haven’t got a link) that we could detain a Stateless person indefinitely.

We now have ASIO rules which allow people to be detained for 7 days without charge. It was reported this week that John Howard was thinking about reviving the internment power? Sounds lovely. It is. This was the power the Executive had during WW2 to detain enemy nationals until the end of the war (the famous US case to deal with Japanese internment was Kormatsu, or similar).

BUT, what war? John Howard says the war on terror. The logical endpoint of this thinking is that the government would be able to detain enemy nationals until the end of the war on terror. I have never heard anything so ridiculous. Firstly, Australia is not at war. We have not had a single terrorist incident on Australian soil. We have not declared war, which is only valid when declared by the GG and Gazetted. Why not? Because the war on terror, as Burnside also said, is a war on an abstraction. We cannot possibly find a point in time that would be the end of this ‘war’. In fact, we would just have people languishing in jail until the war was at an end.

By the time these pieces of law are applied against YOU, it is too late. YOU are safe and secure, reading this blog, probably without much chance of being jailed indefinitely. By the time YOU are jailed, think of the MASSIVE number of violations that have already been instigated against people who AREN’T so safe and secure. By the time that happens, we are a fascist State.

Don’t think it can’t happen.

September 9, 2005

More Iraqi Justice

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:34 am by thelawthoughts

The President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, has informed us all that Saddam Hussein confessed to crimes whilst in custody. According to the Beeb, he says there are 100 reasons to sentence Saddam to death.

I continue to be horrified by the fact that Saddam is going to be executed, regardless of what evidence is presented at his trial. The Iraqis have a President who stomps around in public, scoring political points by saying Saddam deserves to die (ostensibly because Saddam tried to assassinate him) but WILL NOT SIGN THE DEATH WARRANT HIMSELF.

Why not? There can only be two reasons, in my reckoning. Firstly, he is attempting to distance himself from the execution because of its potential political impact in the future. If things go wrong, he can assert that he did not sign the warrant himself and is therefore somehow not responsible for the execution. I can’t believe he would seriously argue this, the death warrant requires his authorisation, even if the VP signs.

The second reason would be that his conscience does not allow him to sign the warrant. Again, I don’t believe this for a second. If Talabani is as anti-capital punishment as he announces in public, why is he bothering to bleat about how Saddam deserves to be executed? Surely a decent statesman would try to make a break with the bloodshed of the past and uphold his own convictions. Surely, if he is so anti-execution he could at least make some effort to oppose a death penalty.

There is so much hatred in Iraq that there is no stopping this retribution. Saddam is going to die, human rights, fair trial, production of proper evidence, independent judiciary, and probable martyrdom be damned.

September 2, 2005

Capital Punishment in Iraq

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:21 am by thelawthoughts

Simply put, what is the point? Why are we bothering to execute Iraqi criminals? I thought the invasion was meant to get rid of an oppressive regime, which murdered its citizens and ‘deterred’ criminals.

Of course, killing these three murderers and rapists fills the new government with legitimacy. What, are they trying to be the type of government the ordinary Iraqi people will recognise??

There is no justification for capital punishment and there is certainly no basis for arguing that it will deter people from committing rape. Surely, in such circumstances, we should be using these people as examples of the new rule of law which is percolating through the Iraqi justice system. Yes, they should rot in jail. However, by executing them, the Iraqi government is no better than its predecessor.

Jalal, if you are so against the death penalty, why don’t you stand up to it? Show the Americans that Iraq has its own voice and is willing to be a part of the international community. Getting rid of awful punishment such as execution is the first step. At least that way, we can work towards establishing a functional justice system and we can get the hell out of there.