Showing posts with label United Nations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label United Nations. Show all posts

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

As a new member of the UN Human Rights Council is Australia continuing to act the hypocrite?


For the second time in three months the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights has written to the Turnbull Coalition Government concerning its welfare policies.

Australian-born Professor Alston has been Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights since June 2014.

The Commonwealth of Australia was elected on 16 October 2017 as a member of the UN Human Rights Council 2018-2020.

So the following news item is more than a little embarrassing with what it reveals about government policies.

ABC Radio RN Breakfast, 1 February 2018:

A top UN official has delivered a scathing assessment of Australia's welfare policies describing them as 'punitive' and harmful to women.

Australian Philip Alston is the UN's Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty. He accuses the government of pursuing policies that 'stigmatise' and 'marginalise' poorer sections of society.

In a letter sent to the government this week, Philip raised concerns about the planned expansion of cashless welfare cards, and their impact on indigenous communities.

The first letter dated 17 October 2017 addressed the Social Services Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (Cth) (No. 33 of 2017) and concerns that it may have a negative impact on the human rights of persons living in poverty, particularly single parents and their children, as well as expressing concerns about proposed drug testing of young people on unemployment benefits.

It would appear that the Turnbull Government’s welfare reforms make nonsense of Australia’s voluntary undertakings lodged with the United Nations on 14 July 2014 as part of its candidature for a vacancy on the UN Human Rights Council.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Trump starts the New Year with the United Nation's thumbing its nose at his threats


Despite US President Donald Trump’s threats to pull foreign aid from countries which didn’t vote as he directed, seventy-four per cent of national representatives participating in the UN General Assembly  Emergency Session ‘Status of Jerusalem’ vote cast their ballots against the Trump Regime’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

United Nations News Centre, 21 December 2017:

General Assembly demands all States comply with UN resolutions regarding status of Jerusalem
Panels in the General Assembly Hall showing the final count for the resolution on ‘the status of Jerusalem, during the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session on Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. UN Photo/Manuel Elias
21 December 2017 – By an overwhelming majority, Member States in the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday “demanded” that all countries comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the status of Jerusalem, following an earlier decision by the United States to recognize the Holy City as the capital of Israel.
Through a resolution adopted by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to nine against (Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Togo, United States), with 35 abstentions, the 193-member Assembly expressed “deep regret” over recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem and stressed that the Holy City “is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant UN resolutions.”
Action in the Assembly today follows a failed attempt by the Security Council on Monday adopt a similar text reflecting regret among the body’s members about “recent decisions regarding the status of Jerusalem,” with a veto from the United States, a permanent member of the Council.
Ahead of that failed resolution, Nickolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council that the security situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory had become more tense in the wake of US President Donald Trump's decision on 6 December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Subsequently, Yemen and Turkey, in their respective capacities as Chair of the Arab Group and the Chair of the Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, requested the President of the General Assembly to “urgently resume’ the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly in accordance with the so-named ‘Uniting for peace’ procedure.
This procedure, under Assembly resolution 377 (1950), is a pathway around a Security Council veto. By it, the Assembly can call an emergency special session to consider a matter “with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures,” if the Security Council fails to act or if there is lack of unanimity among the Council’s permanent members, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Since the tenth such meeting, the Assembly has temporarily adjourned the emergency special session and authorized “the President of the General Assembly […] to resume its meeting upon request from Member States,” allowing for speedy consideration by the body of urgent issues.
The most recent resumed emergency session was in 2009 when the Assembly called a meeting on East Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Resolutions in the Assembly are non-binding and do not carry the force of international law as do measures agreed in the Security Council.

Today’s resolution demanded that “all States comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions.”
The General Assembly further affirmed that “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”
In that regard the Assembly also called upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem, pursuant to Security Council resolution 478 adopted in 1980.
Reiterating its call for the reversal of the negative trends that endanger the two-State solution, the Assembly urged greater international and regional efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Monday, 20 November 2017

The depths to which xenophobia and bigotry has reduced Australia


Australia began to ignore its obligations under international law in 1992 and its determination to turn back asylum seeker boats and reduce the number of refugees accepted into this country grew apace until this is the situation in November 2017.

The New York Times, 18 November 2017:

Veteran United Nations officials said this month they had never seen a wealthy democracy go to such extremes to punish asylum seekers and push them away.

Papua New Guinea officials and local leaders, enraged at how the camp’s closure was handled, have demanded to know why Australia is not doing more to help the men.

HuffPost, 18 November 2017:

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's main medical association called on Saturday for the government to allow independent doctors and other health experts to help more than 400 asylum seekers languishing inside a recently closed detention center in Papua New Guinea.

The asylum seekers have shut themselves inside the Australian-run Manus Island Centre for the past 18 days, defying attempts by Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) to close it in a standoff the United Nations describes as a "looming humanitarian crisis".

Australia has shut access to the center, and staff, including doctors, have left, leaving the men without sufficient food, clean water, power or medical care.

Members of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) voted unanimously on Saturday to call on the government to grant access to the center so doctors could assess the men's health, wellbeing and living conditions.

"The AMA has made many representations on this matter, both publicly and in private but, with a worsening and more dangerous situation emerging on Manus, the federal council strongly believes that urgent action and answers are needed," AMA President Michael Gannon said.

The Australian, 17 November 2017:

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has warned New Zealand it may damage its relationship with the government if it chooses to take Manus Island refugees without the approval of Australia.

Mr Dutton said New Zealand and Papua New Guinea “would have to think through” the impact it would have on their relationship with Australia if they made a unilateral agreement to resettle refugees from the offshore detention centre.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has put pressure on the Turnbull government to accept its offer to resettle 150 refugees from Manus Island. The PNG Supreme Court ruled last week the asylum-seekers and refugees were probably the responsibility of PNG, opening the door for an agreement to resettle refugees without permission from Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 November 2017:

As the Manus Island detention centre stand-off entered its fifth day, Mr Turnbull held talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Sydney, where she formally extended to Mr Turnbull the offer to take in 150 people. "The offer is very genuine and remains on the table," she said.

But Mr Turnbull said Australia remained focused on the US refugee resettlement deal, which has so far resulted in 54 people being resettled. The US deal covers up to 1250 people but US President Donald Trump dislikes it and vetting is taking a long time.

"In the wake of that deal obviously we can consider other ones," Mr Turnbull said. "We thank New Zealand for making an offer – we are not taking it up at this time."

New Zealand first made its offer to Julia Gillard's government in 2013 but it has been rejected by both Labor and the Coalition. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has now called on Mr Turnbull to accept it, saying it is similar to the US deal.

Sky News, 4 November 2017:

The United Nations human rights office has called on Australia to restore food, water and health services to about 600 interned refugees and asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea, which Canberra cut off three days ago.

The detainees in the Manus Island Centre have defied attempts by the governments of Australia and PNG to close the camp, saying they fear violent reprisals from the local community if they are moved to other 'transit centres'.

'We call on the Australian government ... who interned the men in the first place to immediately provide protection, food, water and other basic services,' UN rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing on Friday.

Australia has an obligation to do so under international human rights law and the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, he said.

There was no immediate comment from Australia or its representatives in Geneva. Its government has said the camp had been ruled illegal by PNG authorities and it had committed to supply other sites for 12 months.

Colville joined the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in warning of an 'unfolding humanitarian emergency' in the centre where asylum seekers began digging wells on Thursday to try to find water as their food supplies dwindled.

The remote Manus Island centre has been a key part of Australia's disputed immigration policy under which it refuses to allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores, detaining them instead in PNG and Nauru in the South Pacific.

'We repeat our overall concerns about Australian offshore processing centres which are unsustainable, inhumane and contradictory to its human rights obligations,' Colville said.

Around 500 of the men have still not had their asylum claims processed, he said.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Shorter UN Position: Australia's policy of offshore processing has caused extensive, avoidable suffering for far too long


To add insult to injury our very own J. Edgar Tuber, Peter Craig Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection & just about everything that isn't nailed down, has apparently been lying to the United Nations.


Australia’s policy of offshore processing in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, which denies access to asylum in Australia for refugees arriving by sea without a valid visa, has caused extensive, avoidable suffering for far too long.
Four years on, more than 2,000 people are still languishing in unacceptable circumstances. Families have been separated and many have suffered physical and psychological harm.
In light of this dire humanitarian situation, last November UNHCR exceptionally agreed to help with the relocation of refugees to the United States following a bilateral agreement between Australia and the US. We agreed to do so on the clear understanding that vulnerable refugees with close family ties in Australia would ultimately be allowed to settle there. 
UNHCR has recently been informed by Australia that it refuses to accept even these refugees, and that they, along with the others on Nauru and Papua New Guinea, have been informed that their only option is to remain where they are or to be transferred to Cambodia or to the United States.
This means, for example, that some with serious medical conditions, or who have undergone traumatic experiences, including sexual violence, cannot receive the support of their close family members residing in Australia.
To avoid prolonging their ordeal, UNHCR has no other choice but to endorse the relocation of all refugees on Papua New Guinea and Nauru to the United States, even those with close family members in Australia.  
There is no doubt these vulnerable people, already subject to four years of punishing conditions, should be reunited with their families in Australia. This is the humane and reasonable thing to do. 
The Australian government’s decision to deny them this possibility is contrary to the fundamental principles of family unity and refugee protection, and to common decency. 
UNHCR fully endorses the need to save lives at sea and to provide alternatives to dangerous journeys and exploitation by smugglers. But the practice of offshore processing has had a hugely detrimental impact. There is a fundamental contradiction in saving people at sea, only to mistreat and neglect them on land.  
Australia has a proud humanitarian tradition, manifested in its support for overseas aid and its longstanding refugee resettlement programme. I urge Australia to bring an immediate end to the harmful practice of offshore processing, offer solutions to its victims, for whom it retains full responsibility, and work with us on future alternatives that save lives at sea and provide protection to people in need.
At a time of record levels of displacement globally, it is crucial that all States offer protection to survivors of war and persecution, and not outsource their responsibilities to others. Refugees, our fellow human beings, deserve as much.
 Background
Approximately 2,500 refugees and asylum-seekers have been forcibly transferred by Australia to ‘offshore processing’ facilities in Papua New Guinea and Nauru since the introduction of the current policy in 2013. Of these, some 1,100 remain in Nauru and 900 in Papua New Guinea.
Following the Australia-US bilateral agreement on relocation, UNHCR has referred more than 1,100 refugees to the US over the past eight months. Another 500 people are still waiting for the outcome of the refugee status determination processing being carried out by authorities in PNG and Nauru, under the Australian arrangement.

Monday, 5 June 2017

World Environment Day, 5 June 2017


Connecting people to nature

From your backyard to your favourite national park, 
nature is closer than you think. 
It’s time to get out and enjoy it.

A species growing in the Barmah region in the Murray-Darling Basin, NSW
For at least the last 6,000 years
Photograph: The Australian


World Environment Day has been celebrated since June 1970
This year's host country is Canada





Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Zealand, Venezuela, Senegal and Malaysia reject US president-elect Trump's aggressive meddling in sensitive business before the UN Security Council


A taste of resistance to come or will Donald John Trump manage to successfully bully the UN Security Council once he is sworn in as US president?

United Nations Security Council, 7853RD MEETING, 23 December 2016, meeting coverage:

14 Delegations in Favour of Resolution 2334 (2016) as United States Abstains

The Security Council reaffirmed this afternoon that Israel's establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders.

Adopting resolution 2334 (2016) by 14 votes, with the United States abstaining, the Council reiterated its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.  It underlined that it would not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the two sides through negotiations.

The Council called for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction.  It further called for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism.  The Council called on both sides to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric in order to de-escalate the situation on the ground and rebuild trust and confidence.

Also by the text, the Council called on all parties to continue to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final-status issues in the Middle East peace process, and within the time frame specified by the Middle East Quartet (European Union, Russian Federation, United Nations, United States) in its statement of 21 September 2010.  It called upon all States to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.

Explaining her delegation's abstention, the representative of the United States said it had been a long-standing position of her country that settlements undermined Israel's security and eroded prospects for peace and stability.  She emphasized, however, that her vote today had not been straightforward.  Explaining that Israel had been treated differently from other States for as long as it had been a member of the United Nations, she noted that during the course of 2016, 18 resolutions adopted in the General Assembly and others in the Human Rights Council had all condemned Israel.  It was because of that bias that the United States had not voted in favour of the resolution, she said, emphasizing that her delegation would not have let the resolution pass had it not addressed terrorism and incitement to violence…….

Full article here.


Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on adoption of Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016)

The Secretary-General welcomes the adoption by the Security Council of Resolution 2334 (2016) on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. The resolution is a significant step, demonstrating the Council's much needed leadership and the international community's collective efforts to reconfirm that the vision of two States is still achievable.

​​The Secretary-General takes this opportunity to encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to work with the international community to create a conducive environment for a return to meaningful negotiations.

​​The United Nations stands ready to support all concerned parties in achieving this goal.

The Security Council vote on the measure passed 14 to 0, with the United States as the lone abstention.

The New York Times, 23 December 2016:

UNITED NATIONS — Defying extraordinary pressure from President-elect Donald J. Trump and furious lobbying by Israel, the Obama administration on Friday allowed the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution that condemned Israeli settlement construction.

The administration's decision not to veto the measure reflected its accumulated frustration over Israeli settlements. The American abstention on the vote also broke a longstanding policy of shielding Israel from action at the United Nations that described the settlements as illegal.

While the resolution is not expected to have any practical impact on the ground, it is regarded as a major rebuff to Israel, one that could increase its isolation over the paralyzed peace process with Israel's Palestinian neighbors,….

The vote came a day after Mr. Trump personally intervened to keep the measure, which had been originally proposed by Egypt, from coming up for a vote on Thursday, as scheduled. Mr. Trump's aides said he had spoken to Mr. Netanyahu. Both men also spoke to the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Egypt postponed the vote under what that country's United Nations ambassador called intense pressure.

But in a show of mounting exasperation, four other countries on the Security Council — Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela — all of them relatively powerless temporary members with rotating two-year seats, snatched the resolution away from Egypt and put it up for a vote Friday…..

Mr. Trump's comments on the resolution amounted to his most direct intervention on United States foreign policy during his transition to power. Minutes after the Security Council vote was announced, Mr. Trump made his anger known in a Twitter posting, saying: "As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th."

The Independent UK, 25 December 2016:

Defending New Zealand's vote on Saturday, the country's Foreign Minister Murray McCully said: "We have been very open about our view that the [UN Security Council] should be doing more to support the Middle East peace process and the position we adopted today is totally in line with our long established policy on the Palestinian question.

i24 News, 25 December 2016:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday said that the United Nations Security Council's passing of a resolution condemning Israel's settlement activities was a "clear statement by the world" and sets forth the "legal basics" for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Speaking at a Christmas event in Bethlehem, Abbas said the UN's decision is a "clear statement by the world according to which the settlement enterprise in the territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, are illegitimate enterprise."

"The voting in favor of the resolution hasn’t resolved the Palestinian cause, but defined it," Abbas was quoted by the official Palestinian WAFA news agency. "The resolution stressed the legal basics for a solution and reiterated that Israeli settlement is illegal."


The Hill, 26 December 2016:

The move prompted widespread backlash against Obama from Republicans and Democrats alike.
It also infuriated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who already has a shaky relationship with Obama.  Netanyahu accused the United States of “colluding” with the United Nations in secret and summoned the U.S. ambassador on Sunday.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 December 2016:

Wellington: Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu personally phoned New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully to warn him a UN resolution co-sponsored by the country was a "declaration of war," according to a report….
In the aftermath, Israel has withdrawn its ambassador to New Zealand, barred New Zealand's ambassador to Israel, and warned of further sanctions.

According to media reports Israel has refused to recognize resolution 2334 and has recalled it ambassadors to 10 member countries on the 15 member UN Security Council. Israel apparently does not have formal diplomatic representation in either Malaysia or Venezuela, but it appears that the remaining eight non-permanent member countries are minus Israeli ambassadors at the moment and some have allegedly had Israeli aid withdrawn.

Typically, monosllyabic president-elect Donald Trump takes no responsibility for the results of his politically improper backroom intervention and tweeted:


BACKGROUND

U.N. Security Council Draft Resolution 2334 (2016) on the Middle East Peace Process, co-sponsored by New Zealand, Venezuela, Senegal and Malaysia:

 


and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly (with end of term date):
Angola (2016)
Egypt (2017)
Japan (2017)
Malaysia (2016)
New Zealand (2016)
Senegal (2017)
Spain (2016)
Ukraine (2017)
Uruguay (2017)

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

United Nations requests Governments of Sweden and United Kingdom to allow Julian Assange "freedom of movement"



The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has concluded its 77th regular session from 21 to 25 November in Geneva.

The Working Group has a mandate to investigate allegations of individuals being deprived of their liberty in an arbitrary way or inconsistently with international human rights standards, and to recommend remedies such as release from detention and compensation, when appropriate.

During the session, the Working Group adopted 18 opinions concerning 43 persons deprived of liberty. The adopted opinions will be transmitted to the Governments concerned and the sources. These opinions will also be published on the website of the Working Group.

The UN expert group also considered four requests for review* of previous opinions, submitted by the Arab Republic of Egypt, the State of Kuwait and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Working Group concluded that the requests did not meet the threshold of a review as enshrined in paragraph 21 of its methods of work,** and that they were thus not admissible.


Disposition

In the light of the foregoing, the Working Group renders the following opinion: The deprivation of liberty of Julian Assange is arbitrary and in contravention of articles 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 7, 9 (1), (3) and (4), 10 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It falls within category III of the categories applicable to the consideration of the cases submitted to the Working Group.

Consequent upon the opinion rendered, the Working Group requests the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom to assess the situation of Mr. Assange, to ensure his safety and physical integrity, to facilitate the exercise of his right to freedom of movement in an expedient manner and to ensure the full enjoyment of his rights guaranteed by the international norms on detention.

The Working Group considers that, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the adequate remedy would be to ensure the right of free movement of Mr. Assange and accord him an enforceable right to compensation, in accordance with article 9 (5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. [Adopted on 4 December 2015]

Friday, 23 September 2016

The United Nations clearly recognises that Coalition prime ministers may have changed but the Australian Government continues to be a bad international citizen


Then……

Australian Prime Minister John Anthony "Tony" Abbott
69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, 25 September 2014
Speaking to a near empty hall

Now……

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull
71st Session of United Nations General Assembly in New York, 22 September 2016
Speaking to a near empty hall

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Manus Island detention Centre declared illegal by PNG Supreme Court in a unanimous judgment


Five judges sitting as the Supreme Court of Justice in Papua New Guinea have unanimously ruled that holding 905 asylum seekers at Manus Island detention centre is unconstitutional and a violation of their human rights.

Excerpts from the full judgment:


The Australian Lawyers Alliance is of the opinion that this judgment opens the door for the Australian Government to be sued for damages by detainees.



UPDATE

ABC News, 27 April 2016:

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says the Manus Island regional processing centre will be closed following a ruling from the country's Supreme Court….
Mr O'Neill has now released a statement said that his government "will immediately ask the Australian Government to make alternative arrangements for the asylum seekers".
"For those that have been deemed to be legitimate refugees, we invite them to live in Papua New Guinea only if they want to be a part of our society and make a contribution to our community," he said.
"It is clear that several of these refugees do not want to settle in Papua New Guinea and that is their decision."
Mr O'Neill has also stated that the local economy would suffer as a result and the Government would work with the Australian Government to ease the transition.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

The strange case of Julian Assange continues.....


Julian Assange has reportedly been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 12 June 2012, a total of 1,328 days since he sought asylum there.

The legal matter which triggered his request for asylum remains unresolved to date.

On 5 February 2016 the Office of High CommissionerHuman Rights, United Nations, issued this statement:

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Deems the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Julian Assange as arbitrary

On 4 December 2015, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) adopted Opinion No. 54/2015, in which it considered that Mr. Julian Assange was arbitrarily detained by the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In that opinion, the Working Group recognized that Mr. Assange is entitled to his freedom of movement and to compensation. The application was filed with the Working Group in September 2014. The Opinion 54/2015 was sent to the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 22 January 2016 in accordance with the Working Group’s Methods of Work.

Given that Mr. Assange is an Australian citizen, one of the members of the Working Group who shares his nationality recused herself from participating in the deliberations.  Another member of the Working Group disagreed with the position of the majority and considered that the situation of Mr. Assange is not one of detention and therefore falls outside the mandate of the Working Group.

In mid-2010, a Swedish Prosecutor commenced an investigation against Mr. Assange based on allegations of sexual misconduct. On 7 December 2010, pursuant to an international arrest warrant issued at the request of the Swedish Prosecutor, Mr. Assange was detained in Wandsworth Prison for 10 days in isolation. Thereafter, he was subjected to house arrest for 550 days.  While under house arrest in the United Kingdom, Mr. Assange requested the Republic of Ecuador to grant him refugee status at its Embassy in London. The Republic of Ecuador granted asylum because of Mr. Assange’s fear that if he was extradited to Sweden, he would be further extradited to the United States where he would face serious criminal charges for the peaceful exercise of his freedoms.  Since August 2012, Mr. Assange has not been able to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy and is subject to extensive surveillance by the British police.

The Working Group considered that Mr. Assange has been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty: initial detention in Wandsworth prison which was followed by house arrest and his confinement at the Ecuadorian Embassy.  Having concluded that there was a continuous deprivation of liberty, the Working Group also found that the detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr. Assange.  The Working Group found that this detention is in violation of Articles 9 and 10 of the UDHR and Articles 7, 9(1), 9(3), 9(4), 10 and 14 of the ICCPR, and falls within category III as defined in its Methods of Work. 

The Working Group therefore requested Sweden and the United Kingdom to assess the situation of Mr. Assange to ensure his safety and physical integrity, to facilitate the exercise of his right to freedom of movement in an expedient manner, and to ensure the full enjoyment of his rights guaranteed by the international norms on detention. The Working Group also considered that the detention should be brought to an end and that Mr. Assange should be afforded the right to compensation. 

SBS News, 5 February 2016:

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has branded a United Nations working group report on the "arbitrary detention" of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as "frankly ridiculous".

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart in London, Mr Hammond said Mr Assange was in fact "hiding from justice".

He spoke out after the UN working group ruled Mr Assange was being "arbitrarily detained" in the Ecuadorian embassy in London - and called for him to be paid compensation.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said the Swedish and British authorities should end Assange's "deprivation of liberty" and respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement.

Assange is wanted for questioning over an alleged sex offence in Sweden but has avoided extradition by seeking refuge in the embassy, where he has been living for more than three years after being granted political asylum by the Ecuadorian government.

He claims he will be transported to the United States to be quizzed over the activities of WikiLeaks if he is extradited to Sweden. There is an espionage case against him in the US.

He filed a complaint against Sweden and the UK to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in September 2014.

But Hammond said: "I reject the decision of this working group. It is a group made up of lay people and not lawyers.

"Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy.

"He can come out any time he chooses ... But he will have to face justice in Sweden if he chooses to do so.

"This is frankly a ridiculous finding by the working group and we reject it.".....

The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 2016:

And Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC said the UN report showed that "the real villain is Sweden".

Sweden had misused the European arrest warrant system, he said.

"The United Kingdom should now ask Sweden to withdraw that arrest warrant," Mr Robertson said. "It can in fact refuse to act upon it because it has been declared unlawful by this UN tribunal. I think that would be the proper way."

In a statement addressed to the UN Working Group, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs said it disagreed with their opinion.

"He is not being deprived of his liberty (at the embassy) due to any decision or action taken by the Swedish authorities," they said, adding that the government could not in any case interfere with an ongoing case handled by a Swedish public prosecutor.

Assange’s country of origin, Australia, had this to say on the subject by way of its Foreign Minister Julie Bishop:

"I have now read the report and I am seeking legal advice on its implications for Mr Assange, as an Australian citizen….I have confirmed with his lawyers that our offer of consular assistance stands should he require it."

Friday, 27 February 2015

Australia’s international standing sinks to a new low under Prime Minister Tony Abbott


The United Nations reacts.

International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC) letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott concerning his government's treatment of the President of the Australian Human Right Commission, Prof. Gillian Triggs.

This letter was copied to the United Nations Commissioner of Human Rights.

On 26 February 2015 the ICC Chairperson spoke to ABC News Radio about his letter to Prime Minister Abbott and expressed his concerns about the federal government's treatment of the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. 

The next ICC Bureau Meeting will take place on 11 March 2015 at the United Nations Palais de Nations in Geneva and, I suspect that the Australian Government will be discussed at some point.