In a historic decision, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee found on Friday 23 September that Australia’s failure to adequately adapt to climate change violates the human rights of Torres Strait Islanders. It is a landmark victory worth celebrating as part of a broader trend in climate change litigation which has seen human rights put forward to hold both states and corporations accountable. The decision adds to the pressure mounting against Australia to take climate change seriously.
During the present period of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, public sensitivities in the United Kingdom and Australia are high. There’s strong sentiment in both countries in favour of showing respect for the queen’s death. Some people may wish to do this privately. Others will want to demonstrate their respect publicly by attending commemorations and processions. There are also cohorts within both countries that may wish to express discontent and disagreement with the monarchy at this time.
Given that the Australian landscape appears ripe for increased protection of human rights: What are the human rights priorities in Australia?
Disturbing footage emerged this week of a chess-playing robot breaking the finger of a seven-year-old child during a tournament in Russia. Public commentary on this event highlights some concern in the community about the increasing use of robots in our society. Some people joked on social media that the robot was a “sore loser” and had a “bad temper”. Of course, robots cannot actually express real human characteristics such as anger (at least, not yet). But these comments do demonstrate increasing concern in the community about the “humanisation” of robots.
New federal Education Minister Jason Clare has announced a change to the National School Chaplaincy Program to allow schools to “choose” between having a religious chaplain and having a professionally qualified well-being worker. The opposition has criticised the announcement as effectively meaning “the end of many school chaplains”. So what’s the fuss about?
Last week the Victorian government demonstrated its commitment to build an equal relationship with First Peoples. A new bill has been labeled in the Victorian parliament to advance the treaty process.
It’s easy to tell we’re in a federal election campaign – politicians are everywhere, parading around in high-vis vests and kissing babies who just want to be back in their parents’ arms. You can also tell politicians are on the campaign trail by what they’re not talking about. They’re not talking about human rights – neither major party has a policy to strengthen the protection of human rights in Australia.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a nightmare for prospective parents engaged in surrogacy arrangements in the country. Ukraine has become a popular destination for surrogacy. While exact numbers are difficult to obtain, it’s estimated between 2,000 and 2,500 babies are born each year via surrogacy in Ukraine.
Last week, it was announced that the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor was opening an investigation into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, examining whether any war crimes had been committed. Then this week, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) held a preliminary hearing into the Ukrainian demand that it issue an emergency order that Russia stop its incursion.
By AAP FactCheck, expert commentary by Maria O’Sullivan and others WHAT WAS CLAIMED COVID-19 vaccination mandates are at odds with the 1986 Human Rights Commission Act OUR VERDICT False. Experts say the legislation in question does not have any relevance to vaccine mandates in Australia. Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) senator Gerard Rennick says there are human […]
The Supreme Court of Queensland recently delivered a landmark judgment (the Owen-D’Arcy judgment) on the operation of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld). The HRA is Australia’s most recently enacted human rights statute joining those already in force in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory. These human rights statutes mark a change from the traditional reliance on representative arms of government for the ‘protection and promotion of human rights’ in Australia.
Concerns for the rights of Afghan women and girls were used to leverage support for the war in Afghanistan from start to finish. In her famous radio address at the beginning of the war, Laura Bush urged Western governments and the international community to amplify and protect the voice of Afghan women. Throughout the duration of the war, this sentiment was captured in the development of foreign policies which were notionally designed to facilitate women’s empowerment and prevent further curtailment of their rights.
No right has preoccupied as many conversations in the digital age than the right to privacy. This is mainly owing to the fact that an individual’s privacy is being subjected to constant intrusion by States and non-state actors, thereby leaving the individual’s lives in a ‘goldfish bowl’ situation. At global and regional levels, countries are grappling to withstand these threats in the digital era by employing a number of legal and institutional mechanisms.
By Melissa Castan and Kate Galloway Last year, we wrote an overview of the High Court decision in Love, Thoms v Commonwealth. The case concerned whether the Commonwealth had the power to deport two Aboriginal men who were born overseas. Neither man was an Australian citizen under Commonwealth law. If the men were deemed “aliens”, then […]
Conference Conversations is a 3-part blog series based on papers from key speakers at the Castan Centre Human Rights Law Conference 2021, which took place on Friday 23 July this year. The final blog in this series is based on a paper presented by the author, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, in session three of the conference on […]
Conference Conversations is a 3-part blog series based on papers from key speakers at the Castan Centre Human Rights Law Conference 2021, which took place on Friday 23 July this year. The second blog in this series is based on a paper presented by the author, Professor Jean Allain, in session two of the conference […]
Conference Conversations is a 3-part blog series based on papers from key speakers at the Castan Centre Human Rights Law Conference 2021, which took place on Friday 23 July this year. The first blog in this series is based on a paper presented by the author, Dr Tania Penovic, in session one of the conference […]
By Dr Joanna Kyriakakis Torts and Human Rights Traditional tort law thinking emphasises the inter-personal nature of torts claims. Unlike public law, tort law is primarily about repairing the bilateral private relationship between two persons rather than constraining exercises of state power over rights. Nonetheless, tort law offers real prospects for litigants to pursue human […]
By Maria O’Sullivan Vaccine passports are an increasingly likely proposition in Australia. Last week, national cabinet “welcomed” a new COVID-19 digital vaccination certificate, which will be made available through the Medicare app or myGov. This week, government services minister Linda Reynolds confirmed Australians who have had two doses would be able to access a certificate. Australians are […]
By Michaela Guthridge Allegations of trolling, upskirting, and a mocking apology by federal MP Andrew Laming are just the latest in a litany of reports which have revealed systemic issues of gender inequality in our nation’s capital. In response to these allegations, Prime Minister Scott Morrison directed Laming to undertake empathy training. These incidents are […]
By Dr Heli Askola The recent travel ban on arrivals from India to Australia has been all over the news this week. There has been debate over whether the pausing of flights until 15 May 2021, and the potential use of the Biosecurity Act 2015 to fine those who return to Australia from India, is […]
By Karen O’Connell and Liam Elphick Following the allegations of rape against attorney general Christian Porter, which he firmly denies, Scott Morrison has insisted that alleged sexual assault can only be dealt with in criminal law. “I am not the police force,” he said when asked for his response as prime minister. “That is a matter for […]
By Associate Professor Normann Witzleb Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has called for submissions to the long-awaited review of the federal Privacy Act 1988. This is the first wide-ranging review of privacy laws since the Australian Law Reform Commission produced a landmark report in 2008. Australia has in the past often hesitated to adopt a strong privacy framework. The new […]
By Professor Paula Gerber and Sue West A report published by UNICEF last week examined the happiness and wellbeing of children in the world’s richest countries. The data from the report was used to also compile a “league table”, and the results are a source of shame for Australia. Not only did we rank 32 out of […]
By Associate Professor Normann Witzleb A big year for privacy just got bigger. On July 16, Europe’s top court ruled on the legality of two mechanisms for cross-border transfers of personal data. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) struck down the “EU-US Privacy Shield”, an intergovernmental agreement on which thousands of US companies based […]
By Associate Professor Heli Askola The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many countries to adopt drastic measures, including border closures and national lockdowns, to curb the spread of the virus. Many of these are having devastating effects on migrants worldwide. In the Australian context, the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis ignores the vulnerabilities of […]
By Tania Penovic and Ronli Sifris Introduction On June 3rd the Health Care (Safe Access) Amendment Bill 2020 was introduced into South Australia’s House of Assembly. The aim of this Bill is to establish “health access zones”(commonly known as “safe access zones”) around abortion clinics, prohibiting anti-abortion conduct from taking place with a 150m radius […]
By Stephen Gray and Thalia Anthony Prime Minister Scott Morrison asserted in a radio interview that “there was no slavery in Australia”. This is a common misunderstanding which often obscures our nation’s history of exploitation of First Nations people and Pacific Islanders. Morrison followed up with “I’ve always said we’ve got to be honest about our history”. […]
By Kate Galloway and Melissa Castan There has rarely been a greater test of our structures of governance than the flurry of lawmaking amidst the declared emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic. Self-containment and restrictions on public (physical) engagement are starting to take their toll. Consequently, while fearful of the worst-case scenario of this terrible disease, some individuals […]
By Brianna Cox, Celeste Rebecchi, Lachlan Cameron and Zoë Tripovich Presenting the Castan Centre’s monthly human rights round-up, highlighting some of the month’s most important human rights news articles, and upcoming events. NEWS In Australia COVID-19 and Human Rights in Australia What Australia’s ‘extreme’ new coronavirus laws and police powers mean for our civil liberties – […]
By Professor the Hon Kevin Bell AM QC, incoming Director of Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Faculty of Law, Monash University My first official external appearance as the incoming Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law will be this Wednesday, 29 April 2020. It will be before the Royal Commission into Victoria’s […]
By Maria O’Sullivan In 2020, human rights law is being tested to its limits. As we are now all aware, in March 2020, the World Health Organization declared that an outbreak of the viral disease COVID-19 had reached the level of a global pandemic and called for governments to take urgent action to stop the spread […]
By Maria O’Sullivan Protests are increasingly breaking out around the world as people begin to chafe against lockdown restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the US, President Donald Trump is fuelling the spread of protest movements nationwide with tweets to “liberate” certain states. This month, car convoy protests were also held here in Australia, as well as in Poland and Brazil. […]
By Maria O’Sullivan and Caroline Henckels Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that anyone entering Australia must enter a 14-day self-quarantine period. Some questions have been raised as to how this new mandate would be administered and enforced. The answer to these questions relies on a somewhat complex patchwork of state and federal laws and […]
By Luke Beck Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter on Monday published an article in this paper claiming his controversial religious discrimination bill is intended merely as a “shield”, and wrongly branding my criticisms of the bill as neither genuine nor constructive. The Attorney-General’s barbs were prompted by an article published in this paper last week explaining how the […]
By Luke Beck Conservative Christians are some of the biggest supporters of Scott Morrison’s religious discrimination bill. But they should be careful what they wish for. It won’t just be gay people, women and people with disabilities who lose out under the proposed law. Christians will be among the biggest losers. Here’s what the bill […]
By Melissa Castan and Kate Galloway The High Court made an important decision today about whether it is possible for Aboriginal Australians to be deported from the country if they are not citizens. By a majority of 4:3, the court decided that: “Aboriginal Australians … are not within the reach of the ‘aliens’ power conferred by s […]
Marius Smith looks back on 14 years at the Castan Centre. When I started at the Castan Centre in 2005, I could immediately feel the energy from the Law Faculty’s human rights community. The centre was small, but already well run by a great administrator, Kay Magnani, and a group of enthusiastic, early career academics […]
IN PRAISE OF ELEANOR JENKIN By Sarah Joseph, Castan Centre Director I take this opportunity to write a note of appreciation for Eleanor Jenkin, our Policy Manager from August 2017 until April 2019. In that role, Eleanor added greatly to the research and policy footprint of the Castan Centre. In particular, she was the main […]
OUR NEW POLICY MANAGER Karin Frodé joined the Castan Centre in August 2019 as the new Policy Manager. In this role, Karin conducts research and legal analysis across a broad range of human rights issues. She is currently working on the Centre’s use of force project which examines the use of force in closed environment […]
By Sarah Joseph, Castan Centre Director In June of 2019, I was fortunate to attend the first week of the 41st Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council at the Palais Nations in Geneva. In doing so, I witnessed a number of important debates on human rights. I highlight the following. A report was […]
By Andrea Olivares Jones The Castan Centre has this year been delighted to continue our multi-year cooperative project with Vietnam National University (VNU) School of Law to promote and strengthen human rights education abroad. The project has seen the Castan Centre attend the Vietnam-Australia Human Rights Dialogue in 2018, host an Australian educational tour for […]
By Yee-Fui Ng In March, the Castan Centre was proud to win a consultancy tender of $130,000 to prepare a legal issues paper for the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department. The paper explored the legal implications of the government’s use of new and emerging technologies that automate government administration and service delivery in Australia. This included assessing […]
By Maria O’Sullivan Governments around the world are increasingly using technology to assist them to make important decisions that affect human rights. This expansion in the automation of government decision-making is due to a number of factors, including the availability of huge volumes of data and the push by governments to make decision-making more efficient […]
By Andrea Olivares Jones In June this year, the Castan Centre was again proud to host our Annual Human Rights Conference – ‘Human Rights ‘19’, welcoming human rights leaders, professionals and advocates for the only Australian conference of its kind. This year, we covered diverse and critical human rights issues including the death penalty, guardianship […]
By Marius Smith If you’ve been keeping up with the news about Kate and Will’s royal wedding, you may have noticed the kerfuffle over the invitation extended to King Mswati III. The leader of Swaziland rules his tiny African nation with an iron fist. Political parties are banned, emergency laws have been in place for […]
by Sarah Joseph This morning, Melbourne time, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973/2011, which authorises the taking of “all necessary measures” including a no fly zone but short of occupation, to protect civilians and “civilian populated areas” from Colonel Gaddafi’s government. The UN has essentially authorised “humanitarian intervention” against Gaddafi’s regime. “Humanitarian intervention” refers […]
by Sarah Joseph Followers of the Castan Centre Blog would know of the #twitdef imbroglio, ostensibly between the Editor-in-Chief of “the Australian” newspaper, Chris Mitchell, and University of Canberra journalism academic Julie Posetti. It is an interesting tale for the uninitiated, involving threats of a defamation suit over a series of tweets. For background, see my […]
Sarah Joseph The Castan Centre’s twitter account (@castancentre) is intended to disseminate news of relevance to human rights, usually consisting of a short descriptor (very occasionally with attempted wit) followed by a link to a story. To give a sample of its flavour, many of the links below are to our twitter feed (and you […]
By Erica Contini Like any good citizen, I voice my opinion on issues that are important to me by writing to my elected representatives in congress. Lucky for me, I am a US citizen and therefore have the constitutionally protected right to do just that. Even luckier, I generally think I can do so without […]
Sarah Joseph Happy New Year everybody! This afternoon I write about a sad event that took place on Sunday morning (Melbourne time) in Tucson, Arizona. A US Democrat Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in an attempted assassination in which many others were wounded, and six others died. At the time of writing, the hopes for […]
By Marius Smith Among last week’s torrent of Wikileaks cables released by the Guardian was a series of reports from the US embassy in Eritrea. The cables derided the tiny African nation’s secretive leader, Isaias Afwerki, as an “unhinged dictator [who] remains cruel and defiant” and “a recluse who spen[ds] his days painting and tinkering […]
By Sarah Joseph Gosh. This Wikileaks story is just running and running. And with thousands more cables to be released (only a small percentage of the quarter of a million in Wikileaks’ possession have been published so far), it isn’t going to leave the front pages soon. To add to the intrigue, there has been […]
By Melissa Castan What do Australian charities’ tax exemptions, #Twitdef and Wikileaks all have in common? Give me a moment. Last week the High Court held that Aid/Watch is a charitable organisation for the purposes of tax assessment. This would be unremarkable, but Aid/Watch is an organisation that campaigns for effective foreign aid policies through […]
By Sarah Joseph My blog on Sunday regarding this issue had an unprecedented number of hits for the Castan blog, indicating a great level of interest in this story. The hits may also reflect that relatively little attention has been paid to this issue in the mainstream media, hence more reliance on blogs and especially […]
Over the past two years, the Castan Centre has been expanding its online presence, particularly in the burgeoning world of social media, and has now consolidated its operations into the Human Rights Online Project. The project enables the Centre to comment on human rights issues, to facilitate other people’s interest in human rights and to […]
Sarah Joseph An extraordinary thing happened in Australia’s media community last week. Julie Posetti, a journalism lecturer and prolific tweeter, attended a journalism conference in Sydney. One of the speakers was Asa Wahlquist, who used to write climate change articles for the Australian. The Australian has been under some fire recently for its perceived conservative bias (see, […]