Refugee Speak Out TODAY – Sydney Town Hall

April 30, 2010 Comments Off on Refugee Speak Out TODAY – Sydney Town Hall

Rudd, this is how "safe" Afghan refugees are

April 29, 2010 Comments Off on Rudd, this is how "safe" Afghan refugees are

New York Times – Afghanistan: U.N pulls workers

by Alissa J. Rubin

The United Nations withdrew most of its local staff members from Kandahar on Tuesday and instructed its local Afghan employees there to stay home in the coming days because of what it called the “deteriorating” security situation in the southern city, a spokeswoman said. The United Nations is often a bellwether of the level of insecurity, and the decision forced it to effectively suspend its operations, said Susan Manuel, the organization’s spokeswoman in Kabul. “We hope it will be temporary,” she said. There are about 200 United Nations employees in Kandahar.

Human Lifering for refugees, Bondi: 8th May

April 29, 2010 Comments Off on Human Lifering for refugees, Bondi: 8th May

AMNESTY CALL FOR NATIONAL ACTION

Our politicians are turning their backs on Australia’s impressive record of helping refugees fleeing war and persecution. Tell them that punishing desperate people to score political points is not in line with Australian values of compassion and generosity.

We successfully closed Woomera and  Baxter.
We got children out of detention.
We stopped temporary protection visas.
Working together we can change government policy again.*
Wear red and yellow and come and be part of our human life-ring!

Saturday 8 May

Melbourne 11.00 am    St Kilda Beach
Sydney 11.00 am    Bondi Beach
Brisbane 1.00 pm    King George Square
Adelaide 1.00 pm    Barker Gardens, Prospect

More info go to http://www.amnesty.org.au or call 1300 300 920

In 2009, there were 377,160 asylum applications in 44
industrialised nations in the world.
Australia received 6170 asylum applications.
This is 1.6% of the total number.

Refugee Rally TOMORROW – Refugees are welcome in Oz

April 29, 2010 Comments Off on Refugee Rally TOMORROW – Refugees are welcome in Oz

Greens run on refugee ticket

April 29, 2010 Comments Off on Greens run on refugee ticket

Inner West Courier : Greens campaign against ALP’s refugee stance

GREENS candidates for the upcoming federal election Sam Byrne and Tony Hickey have accused the Federal Labor Government of reverting to former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard’s stance on refugees. Mr Byrne is running for the seat of Grayndler, which is held by Anthony Albanese, while Mr Hickey is taking on Tanya Plibersek for the seat of Sydney. More

SL war criminals better watch out…

April 29, 2010 Comments Off on SL war criminals better watch out…

ABC Radio Australia Connect Asia : UN calls for war crimes tribunal into Sri Lanka

More than a year after Sri Lanka launched its final offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels, pressure continues to mount for an international tribunal into alleged war crimes. U-N Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon plans to appoint a panel of experts to look into a tribunal something the Sri Lankan government says is unwarranted and uncalled for. Now Australian lawyers are joining forces with the International Commission of Jurists to take witness statements and prepare evidence for any war crimes tribunal. They say they hope it will help demonstrate the need for a full investigation and help protect those who might be subject to further human rights abuses.

Presenter: Joanna McCarthy
Speaker: John Dowd, President of the International Commission of Jurists Australia; Anne Marie Doueihy, co-chair of the Sri Lanka project on behalf of the NSW Young Lawyers Committee

Click here to download audio and read transcript

Rudd pulls out more surprises from hat

April 29, 2010 Comments Off on Rudd pulls out more surprises from hat

SMH : New law would jail a modern Oskar Schindler

A MODERN-DAY Oskar Schindler would be jailed for up 10 years under the Rudd government’s proposed crackdown on people smuggling, lawyers say.

In largely unscrutinised changes, backed by the opposition, the government is introducing new criminal charges for supporting people smugglers, even unwittingly.

”It’s mind-blowing legislation. I’ve never seen anything like it,” the University of Sydney professor of public law, Mary Crock, said. More</strong

What has GoSL done to Prageeth?

April 28, 2010 Comments Off on What has GoSL done to Prageeth?

Lankaenews – The IGP must explain the circumstances of Prageeth Ekanaliyagoda’s disappearance -AHRC

Prageeth Ekanaliyagoda, a journalist, disappeared on the 4th January, 2010 and despite enormous efforts made by his family and friends, media groups and human rights organisations locally and internationally to bring this to the attention of the government. No serious investigation has been made into his disappearance.

Prageeth’s wife, once again publically protested this weekend complaining that the state has remained silent on the issue and demanded to know the whereabouts of her husband. She has campaigned consistently since her husband disappearance demanding her rights as a wife and a citizen for a proper investigation. The government has failed to give a reasonable answer to her plea.

Ministers initially tried to create the impression that they have received information from the police about the actual circumstances surrounding the disappearance they would reveal the information to the public soon. The insinuation is that there is no state involvement in this disappearance; that it was the result of a private dispute, the police have, in fact, investigated and are aware of the ‘real circumstances’. However, that position soon changed and the various promises to finalise the investigation soon, which was made in public when the journalists questioned the government spokesman, were not kept. More

Oz: only Western democracy w/o HR Charter

April 28, 2010 Comments Off on Oz: only Western democracy w/o HR Charter

Human Rights Act Thwarted by Government

Monash University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights Law has criticised the Federal Government’s announcement that it would not support a federal Human Rights Charter.

Speaking at today’s National Press Club Commonwealth Attorney General Robert McClelland announced that the government would not support the key recommendation of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee’s report, leaving Australia as the only Western democracy without a comprehensive charter of human rights.

The Federal Government has announced the adoption of a Human Rights Framework, which emphasises new education initiatives for schools, the community and the public service, and enhanced parliamentary processes for scrutinising legislation with regard to Australia’s human rights obligations.

Castan Centre director Professor Sarah Joseph said there was very little in the package that would make government more accountable for human rights abuses.

“We are profoundly disappointed that the government has decided not to adopt a Human Rights Charter,” she said. “The powers of the Australian Human Rights Commission, except in the area of expanding its education role, have not been enhanced. It also seems that a number of the committee’s other recommendations have been ignored.”

Professor Joseph said it was strange that the government chose to establish the committee, only to reject its major recommendation.

“The centre is unconvinced by Mr McClelland’s statement that a Charter would “divide our community”, considering the overwhelming support for a charter during the consultation process,” she said.

Professor Joseph said the human rights charter debate had been dominated by fears that such legislation would shift decision-making power to the unelected judiciary.

“Under the proposed act, judges would not be able to invalidate legislation and parliament would retain ultimate decision-making power while permitting an important avenue of redress for individuals seeking remedies for human rights abuses,” Professor Joseph said.

Centre deputy director Dr Paula Gerber said steps to incorporate human rights education into the national school curriculum would be inadequate without a Human Rights Act.

“It is great to say that Australia will promote human rights education, but education about what? Empirical research clearly demonstrates that human rights education is most effective when there is a domestic human rights act on which to base that education,” Dr Gerber said.

Professor Joseph said the Castan Centre hoped the proposed review in 2014 would gives rise to more robust measures than had been announced today and called for an earlier review.

Click here for link to the press release:

RSF – GoSL's thugs kidnap journalists

April 28, 2010 Comments Off on RSF – GoSL's thugs kidnap journalists

Reporters Without Borders/Reporters sans frontières 26 April 2010

*SRI LANKA- Gang boss known for hostility towards journalists appointed deputy media minister*

“In what country do you appoint an arsonist to put out fires?” Reporters Without Borders asked today after learning that Mervyn Silva, a politician notorious for insulting and physically attacking journalists, has been appointed deputy minister of media and information. Labour minister in the last government, Silva was confirmed in his new post by parliament on 23 April.

“The Sri Lankan government has against distinguished itself by assigning key posts to very controversial figures implicated in attacks on press freedom,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The ruling party’s victory in the parliamentary elections is being marred by this kind of appointment, which is casting serious doubt on its ability to carry out reconciliation and reconstruction.”

The press freedom organisation added: “We call on Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne to relieve Mervyn Silva of his ministerial post.”

Silva’s appointment comes at a time of considerable hostility towards press freedom. The defence secretary (who is the president’s brother) put a great deal of pressure on TV stations and websites not to provide live coverage of opposition leader Sarath Fonseka’s speech at the opening of the new parliament on 22 April.

In the event, no TV station broadcasted live the speech delivered by Fonseka, who was let out of prison to attend the inauguration because he won a seat in the parliamentary election. A former army commander, Fonseka has been detained after last January’s presidential election, in which he was the leading opposition candidate.

Several newspapers reported his speech on their websites, but did not publish any photos of him in their print editions. “When such pressure comes from the defence ministry, we have no choice but to not publish, or else we will be risking closure,” a Colombo-based journalist told Reporters Without Borders on condition of anonymity.

Threats forced several Sri Lankan journalists to flee the country during the campaign for the 8 April parliamentary elections. Later, a team working for the Colombo-based /Daily Mirror/ newspaper was followed and threatened on 21 April in the central city of Kandy by a local journalist apparently acting on the orders of the police. Journalists had gone there to cover a re-poll.

A ruling party candidate threatened *Wasantha Chadrapala*, a correspondent for various media in the eastern district of Ampara, on 4 April because of his coverage of the election campaign. His house was attacked by unidentified assailants that evening.

There is still no news of *Prageeth Eknaligoda*, a reporter and cartoonist who has been missing since 24 January:

http://en.rsf.org/sri-lanka-cartoonist-kidnapped-two-months-23-03-2010,36823.html
<ttp://en.rsf.org/sri-lanka-cartoonist-kidnapped-two-months-23-03-2010,36823.html%22>

Opposition journalist *Ruwan Weerakoon* is meanwhile still being held although he is in very poor health:
http://en.rsf.org/sri-lanka-anti-terrorist-police-arrest-18-03-2010,36782.html
<ttp://en.rsf.org/sri-lanka-anti-terrorist-police-arrest-18-03-2010,36782.html%22>

Finally, the government has ordered all journalists, newspaper editors and media owners to submit a declaration of possessions by 30 March.

*/Information about Mervyn Silva/*

A staunch supporter of President Mahinda Rajapksa, Mervyn Silva is above all known for organising various physical attacks on news media while labour minister, and for his verbal attacks on independent journalists. In December 2007, he led an assault on the headquarters of
the state TV station /SLRC/ and was forcibly expelled from the building. At least five of the station’s employees were physically attacked in the weeks that followed – some of them sustaining serious stab wounds – presumably to punish them for humiliating Silva.

Silva and his men assaulted several journalists, including a /BBC/ correspondent, during a peaceful meeting near Colombo in 2007.

In March 2008, Silva supporters threatened a /Sirasa TV/ crew that went to do a report about a bridge being in Kelaniya, near Colombo. “This time I lift a finger but the next time I will lift a hand if you come back,” Silva told the journalists. The following month, Silva’s thugs threatened photographers from the /Daily Mirror/ and /Daily Lankadeepa/newspapers who were covering an inauguration.

More information about Silva’s hostility towards the media:
http://en.rsf.org/spip.php?page=ticle&id_article&001
http://en.rsf.org/spip.php?page=ticle&id_article 939
http://en.rsf.org/spip.php?page=ticle&id_article%240
http://en.rsf.org/spip.php?page=ticle&id_article&259

Vincent Brossel
Asia-Pacific Desk
Reporters Without Borders
33 1 44 83 84 70
asia@rsf.org <Mailto:asia@rsf.org>

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