Julia Gillard raised concerns of China’s recent crackdown on ‘human rights defenders’ with a senior visiting Chinese Communist Party leader ahead of her first visit to the country. Human Rights Watch wrote to the Prime Minister urging her to publicly press for an end to systemic ongoing human rights violations, arguing Australia’s position would be strengthened if Australia reinforced its own commitment to international human rights standards.
DUAO - 2011 - Vol 36(2)
Developments around the country
DownUnderAllOver is a round-up of legal news from both State and federal jurisdictions, and contains topical articles and short pieces from Alternative Law Journal committees around the country.
The Australian government has announced six investigations into the Australian Defence Force's 'culture', many of which are to focus on the treatment of and opportunities available to women, following the allegedly inappropriate handling by the Australian Defence Force ('ADF') Academy of a complaint made by a female cadet in relation to the broadcast of her sexual encounter with a fellow cadet over Skype. Meanwhile, there are allegations that the ADF has failed to properly investigate or prosecute serving members linked to an online social media campaign that publicly named and vilified homosexual personnel. Finally, it appears women will be allowed to serve in frontline combat roles after the Gillard government ordered the ADF to remove bans that have stopped women from applying for the most dangerous and demanding military jobs.
The Australian government has appointed Bret Walker SC as the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor. The role of the Monitor, appointed under the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act 2010 (Cth), is to review and report on the operation, effectiveness and implications of Australia’s counter terrorism and national security legislation on an ongoing basis.
15 April 2011 saw the 20th anniversary of the release of the report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Commission’s report highlighted the systemic disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which resulted in their higher rates of incarceration and the high rate of subsequent deaths in custody.
Many of the Royal Commission’s recommendations related to the criminal justice system, and required ongoing liaison between different government agencies. The principal thrust of the 333 recommendations was directed towards the elimination of disadvantage, empowerment and self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Twenty years on however, many of the Royal Commission’s recommendations have never been implemented and the deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody continue to be of concern.
Respected Indigenous leaders, Les Malezer and Jody Broun have been elected co-chairs of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Mr Malezer said Australia’s first peoples exercising the right to unreservedly elect their own national leaders, in their own national organisation, was a historical occasion. ‘As such it is the very first step towards self-determination, which is our political right, our human right, our inherent right and our right to equality with all other peoples of the world including the peoples of the Australian nation,’ Mr Malezer said.