Human rights

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Amnesty International: Navalny a Prisoner of Conscience. But not Manning, Assange or Mandela

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/01/2021 - 4:02am in

Russian politician Alexei Navalny remains under arrest in Russia after returning to his homeland earlier this month. The event generated worldwide headlines as the 44-year-old lawyer was immediately detained at a Moscow airport, with Western figures hailing his bravery. “Navalny’s heroic struggle is no different from what Gandhi, King, Mandela and Havel fought for. While Navalny has not succeeded yet, there should be no doubt that his cause is good and just,” wrote former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. President Biden also pressed Putin on the issue in a meeting yesterday.

Navalny had spent five months in Germany recovering from an alleged poisoning which he attributes to government agents, although a recent poll suggested that only 15 percent of Russians agreed with him. Prosecutors allege the leader of the Russia of the Future Party violated his parole terms of a suspended sentence for embezzlement, with Navalny and his allies claiming the charges are politically motivated.

Regardless, his arrest triggered protests in over 100 Russian towns and cities, many of them extremely large. Over 3,700 people were reportedly arrested, including more than 1,400 in Moscow alone, as tensions threaten to spill over. Amnesty International declared Navalny a “prisoner of conscience,” demanding that “authorities must immediately and unconditionally release” the prominent Kremlin critic.

 

A dubious designation

However, “prisoner of conscience” is a designation the London-based human rights organization has refused to apply to Western dissidents like Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. A representative of the organization told journalist Joe Emersberger that it would not recognize Manning as such because they were unsure if the military whistleblower leaked the information in a sufficiently “responsible manner,” claiming to be equally uncertain that she was being punished because she revealed evidence of widespread human rights abuses.

Likewise, while Amnesty has criticized Assange’s trial (one that they have been blocked from observing), in 2019, it told the defense team of the Wikileaks cofounder that his is, “a case we’re monitoring closely but not actively working on. Amnesty International does not consider Julian Assange to be a Prisoner of Conscience.”

Going further back, it refused to grant the status to perhaps the twentieth century’s most famous political prisoner, Nelson Mandela. It justified its decision on the basis that the African National Congress leader refused to renounce armed struggle against Apartheid and advocated violence — a decision that garnered it decades of opprobrium.

Yet Navalny himself has also advocated violence. In a political video, he described the Muslim people of the Northern Caucasus as an “infestation of cockroaches.” While bugs can be killed with a slipper, in the case of human infestations, “I recommend a pistol” he said, before mimicking shooting one.

Far more violent figures than Mandela or Navalny have also earned Amnesty’s “prisoner of conscience” label, including Venezuelan politician Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez was a leader of a U.S.-backed coup in 2002 and organized a campaign of insurrectionary violence in 2014 that included bombing schools and universities, poisoning water supplies and shooting journalists. 43 people were left dead, with the government estimating the damage caused at $15 billion, around the same as the destruction wrought by the 2020 Beirut explosion. In 2019, the organization’s Americas director stated that “International justice is the only hope for victims of human rights violations in Venezuela. It is time to activate all available mechanisms to prevent further atrocities,” implying that she supported the U.S.-led campaign to overthrow the government.

 

Connections to Western power

Unfortunately, Amnesty has a long history of collaborating with Western intelligence agencies to bolster regime change abroad. One cofounder of the organization, Peter Benenson, had deep ties to the British Foreign and Colonial Offices. Benenson worked for years propping up the Apartheid regime of South Africa and other white supremacist societies — all while secretly being paid by the U.K. government.

A second cofounder, Luis Kutner, was an FBI asset whose intelligence was used in the agency’s murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton. He also did secret work to undermine the anti-imperialist Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, whose murder has been strongly linked to American and Belgian intelligence services. Kutner would also go on to form the group “Friends of the FBI” — a supposedly private organization designed to combat criticism of the bureau from civil libertarians and from genuine human rights groups and activists.

The connections to Western power continue into the modern era. For example, Susan Nossel, a government official who worked closely with Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Samantha Power and Susan Rice on the concept of humanitarian intervention, became Executive Director of Amnesty International USA in 2012 (and has since also held senior positions at other organizations like Human Rights Watch and PEN International). 2012 was also the year that Amnesty launched a billboard campaign praising NATO for its supposedly fine work helping women in Afghanistan. “NATO: keep the progress going” the ads said, leading to worldwide pushback.

Ultimately, Amnesty does continue to do important work and provide crucial reports documenting abuses around the world. However, it does so while maintaining all too close a relationship with Western governments, who themselves are the major sources of human rights abuses worldwide. These limitations lead the organization to rush to the defense of dissidents in enemy nations but ignore or downplay their peers in the West. The Navalny case is the latest example of that in action.

Feature photo | Alexei Navalny is surrounded by journalists inside the plane prior to his flight to Moscow in the Airport Berlin Brandenburg (BER) in Schoenefeld, near Berlin, Germany, Jan. 17, 2021. Mstyslav Chernov | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of aca

The post Amnesty International: Navalny a Prisoner of Conscience. But not Manning, Assange or Mandela appeared first on MintPress News.

Australia’s ‘exceptional’ human rights record

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/01/2021 - 5:57am in

Tags 

Human rights

Leaders who consider their country exceptional are less likely to acknowledge any shortcomings. In light of recent criticism of Australia’s human rights record, will our leaders feel so ashamed of being labelled exceptional that they will look to implement standards of common decency considered central to a fair-go culture?


Credit – Unsplash

In Geneva during the UN Human Rights Council’s periodic review of human rights, 40 countries criticised Australia’s policies regarding the imprisonment of Indigenous people, the treatment of asylum seekers and the age of criminal responsibility.

On the latter issue, the Federal government uses the cop-out response that the Australia-wide policy that children as young as 10 can be held criminally responsible is a matter for the states, so federal Australia can wash its hands of its out-of-date attitude.

On the grounds that a country does not like to be compared unfavourably with others, Australia could ponder a few comparisons. In Slovakia, Germany, Italy and Romania, the age of criminal responsibility is 14. In the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden it is 15. Portugal sticks with 16.

An Australian fascination with punishment and locking people up remains a major obstacle to raising the age of criminal responsibility. The same obstacle hinders responses to the Human Rights Council’s trenchant criticism of Australia’s record of imprisoning Aboriginal citizens. That Council reminded the world that although Indigenous Australians make up only 3% of the population, they represent 29% of the adult prison population.

This almost taken for granted use of imprisonment as the way to teach offenders a lesson implies that the First Fleet has only just landed. As with the absurdly cruel and counter-productive rates of imprisonment in the US, it is at best lazy to rely on imprisonment as the way to repeat history.

Creative, energetic policies in the administration of justice are being offered as an alternative to imprisonment but a revolution is needed, not just a modest reduction in the numbers sent to prison. Punishing the vulnerable remains the lazy policy, guarantees misery and more UN criticism.

Books and infinite numbers of articles have been written about Australia’s cruelty towards asylum seekers, but bipartisan Canberra refuses to respond to the UN critique of Australia’s use of offshore processing and prolonged detention of such powerless people.

A chink of light may have appeared a week ago when refugees held for months in a Melbourne hotel were released into the community, yet Minister Dutton explained the release on the grounds that it was cheaper to release them than to pay the costs of incarceration 23 hours a day in hotels.

Incredulity at such an explanation should remind a thinking public that the case for punishing asylum seekers has always stifled any arguments about cost effectiveness. International companies have made a fortune from Australia’s outsourcing its responsibilities, and for imprisoning men, women and children on Manus and Nauru. Figures vary, but $400,000 per person per annum is a conservative estimate of the costs of offshore punishment compared with the $40,000 costs of respecting international law and allowing asylum seekers to live in the community.

While on the issue of cost effectiveness, who justifies the 1,000 days of detention on Christmas Island of two little girls from Bilolea, Konica and Tharunicaa? How to explain that in Geneva? What point is being made, unless cruelty is the yardstick, unless Morrison and Co are making that other lazy, knee jerk claim that they are discouraging people smugglers?

The ‘non refoulement’ international convention says that countries cannot return anyone to a place where they face the risk of persecution. Who cares if a country defines its exceptionalism by insisting that its laws should remain independent of international considerations. Go it alone. Damn the UN ?

Harshness remains the Australian policy towards asylum seekers. UNHCR chief Filipo Grande says this system has caused ‘extensive, avoidable suffering’ yet Australian politicians have tried to gain kudos by recommending that other nations imitate the Australian model. After some consideration, European governments have rejected any idea that when it comes to refugee policies, Australia knows best. Dismissal of Australia’s cruel nonsense is based around questions of costs plus an acknowledgement that asylum seekers’ human rights should be realised.

Australia has claims to being regarded as slightly exceptional, as in the scientific, public health-based response to the Covid pandemic and, until a week ago, in our prowess at cricket. But our human rights record is at best patchy and on the issues raised in Geneva, it’s a disgrace.

Prompt, gutsy responses to the UN criticism have to overcome the chest-beating nationalism that shouts how we make our own laws, that we are proud and independent, that we’ll decide who comes here and how they travel. In a world where survival depends on internationalism, including respect for human rights treaties, Australia could show that respect by assuring the UN that major political parties will campaign to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 15, cease the almost automatic imprisonment of Aboriginal citizens and abandon the decades-old cruelty as the centrepiece of policies towards asylum seekers.

Once those policies have been implemented, self congratulation about being exceptional could be uttered, but quietly, with a touch of humility coupled to acknowledgement that our past record was not impressive.

Street poster on the side wall of a 24-hr convenience store....

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/01/2021 - 10:29am in

Street poster on the side wall of a 24-hr convenience store. Newtown.

Chinese-Australian cartoonist Badiucao walks a fine line to avoid being politically hijacked


Image by Chinese-Australian cartoonist Badiucao alluding to the fact that several companies, including Muji, are believed to purchase cotton harvested by ethnic Uyghur prisoners in Xinjiang. Image used with permission.

Being in the middle of two countries currently engaged in one of their worst rows in years is a difficult space to navigate, even more so if one is an outspoken visual artist. This is precisely the case of Badiucao, a Chinese-Australian cartoonist known for his stand on human rights, freedom of expression and fight against racism who, even while being targeted by Beijing supporters, finds himself increasingly isolated and alienated by all sides in Australia.

Born in mainland China, Badiucao sought political asylum in Australia where he is now a citizen. His art seeks to act as a voice of reason, denounce political instrumentalization and support human rights globally.

A turning point in bilateral relations between Australia and China came in 2020, significantly worsened by a series of economic, political and ideological disputes that still remain unsolved. Until last year, both countries enjoyed an economic honeymoon: in 2014, Canberra and Beijing announced their relationship to be a “comprehensive strategic partnership”. By the time they reached the peak of their economic integration in 2019, China had absorbed over a quarter of Australia's trade, and in that year alone, 1.4 million Chinese tourists had visited Australia.

By 2020, the partnership deteriorated as Australia raised serious concerns about issues of human rights and democracy in the context of the many Chinese-Australian citizens, Hong Kong and pro-Taiwan students that were targeted and sometimes attacked by pro-Beijing supporters in Australia. Beijing rejected the criticism and retaliated by imposing a series of bans on key Australian imports. The situation escalated towards the end of 2020 when China decided to stop purchasing key commodities, such as coal, from Australia — a ban that possibly caused power shortages for millions of Chinese.

In an interview by phone with Global Voices, Badiucao suggested that the diplomatic fall-out should not have come as a total surprise:

I think the problem has been present for a very long time, because it was never mutually beneficial. China sees Australia as a ground for infiltration, from education to politics to media. For such a long time, the Australian government was short-sighted about this relationship, it only saw the economic benefit, but [not] much beyond. 

The COVID-19 pandemic did not help matters. Many of the estimated 260,000 Chinese students who were in Australia in 2019 were prevented from returning, and Canberra accused Beijing of a lack of transparency in its management of the pandemic. The impasse has damaged both sides: society and government bodies have engaged in anti-China or anti-Australia movements, some of them violently racist.


Wine label designed by Badiucao calling for other countries to buy Australian wine after China banned its imports. Image used with permission.

To explain the crisis, Badiucao points to a fundamental difference in values and tolerance for criticism between the countries:

Australia has realized that this toxic relationship has to end and that basic values, such as freedom and democracy, can no longer be overlooked. Canberra wants to make clear [that] the relationship must be mutually beneficial, and that Beijing needs to know the difference in their value systems. However, China is not used to any kind of criticism of its government, and responds in an outrageous manner, particularly under Xi Jinping's strategy of wolf warrior diplomacy. 

The cartoonist believes the crisis is a healthy eye-opener not only for Australia, but for the rest of the world, when determining whether to depend economically on China:

I think that because of the geographic locations of China and Australia, we are the first country in the free world seeing the problems of this relationship. China is not willing to play by the rules like other democratic countries. I hope there could be an alliance against those bully threats China can project on countries like Australia, as in the case of the wine exports.

A narrow space for democracy

While this crisis might indeed be a wake-up call, Badiucao is finding it increasingly difficult to make his voice heard in Australia. While the right and far-right have a strong anti-CCP (Chinese Communist Party) line, that discourse, he explains, often includes elements of xenophobia and racism. Many on the left, meanwhile, are afraid to criticize China in the name of political correctness, lest they be accused of supporting racism.

Within Australia's Chinese communities, the narratives are even more complex and do not favour Badiucao. An estimated 1.2 million Chinese Australians (nearly six percent of the total population), come from very different geographies, as Badiucao decodes:

We often overlook the differences within the community: there are second or third generations; they don’t really know much about what is happening in mainland China, and they might have a sense of nostalgia more related to Jackie Chan movies. There are also recent Hong Kong immigrants who have a different understanding of their identity and political stand. But here is the bottom line: we have to tell the difference between people [and] government. The Chinese government does not represent the Chinese people. Unfortunately, some Chinese-Australians are brainwashed by platforms […] in Australia.

Badiucao thinks the Australian government is not doing enough to communicate this distinction between the Chinese government and being Chinese, and that it needs to invest in the Chinese-Australian community much more efficiently in order to counterbalance Beijing propaganda filtering through WeChat and TikTok. 

Cartoons for human rights

For Badiucao, the best way to spread the message of universal human rights is through his art. Political cartoons require no or little translation and can be immediately understood worldwide. Paradoxically, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a positive effect on his outreach. Offline art events have virtually stopped, but Badiucao has always relied on social media to share his art, which has worked to his advantage.

His cartoon transposing the iconic Beijing 1989 TankMan to the context of Trump's America shows how powerful his integration of global images can be:


Image of the 1989 Tiananmen Square iconic Tank Man transposed to the context of Trump's America, by Badiucao. Image used with permission.

Political satirical art may be global, but Badiucao warns against the manipulation around this form of freedom of expression that occurs in authoritarian countries like China. In November and December 2020, Wuhe Qilin (乌合麒麟 ), a satirical artist based in mainland China, released a series of photoshopped images pointing at an investigation conducted by Australia's own military, which found that the country's soldiers may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

Badiucao explains why one should be very careful when comparing the role and function of cartoon art in China and in democracies:

I wouldn't use the term ‘artist’ or ‘political cartoonist': the whole narrative [that] he is an independent artist who cares about human rights in Afghanistan is bogus. Here is a telling detail: the work he posted on November 23 on Weibo has no signature of the user ID and no time stamp, which is mandatory as per Weibo regulations. This could indicate Wuhe Qilin himself provided the original copy to the Chinese authorities. Besides, for a long time, he smeared Fang Fang, the author of the Wuhan Diary, [portraying her] as a villain hired by the CIA. He is not an independent artist, because there is no such thing as independence in China. If you don’t collaborate, you don’t have a shred of space to survive or you end up in prison. 

Baiduacao responded to Wuhe Qilin via a series of images showing a PLA (People's Liberation Army) soldier repeating the same gesture aimed at Uyghur, Tibetan and Hong Kong people, wondering whether China would allow Wuhe Qilin to be critical of his own country's violations of human rights:

Cruelty as policy in Australia and elsewhere: a short list of 2020s’ victims

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/01/2021 - 5:58am in

Political cultures also foster sadism,  justifying such behaviour by an alleged need to protect national security. And once specific population groups have been dehumanised, they become targets for cruelties.

Denial, bolstered by the fair-go image of state leaders, ensures that cruelty as policy continues unabated.

A short list of victims

For advocating the rights of Saudi women to drive, Loujain al-Hathloul was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison. Her conviction, for spying for foreign parties and conspiring against the Kingdom, was handed down after Loujain had been in detention for three years.

In a Shanghai court, 37-year-old Zhang Zhang was sentenced to four years in prison for reporting on Chinese authorities’ responses to the Covid outbreak in Wuhan. Her conviction referred to ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’.

In Israel at the beginning of December 2020, Defence for Children International reported that in a protest against an Israeli settler outpost, an Israeli soldier shot and killed 15-year-old Palestinian Ali Abu Aliya. Ali is the most recent of 155 Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces in the previous five years.

Three months before Ali’s death, Palestinian Mydi Ikhtat slipped through an Israeli separation fence to resume his work building the city of Be’er Sheva. He was hunted by Israeli border police as a shabah, an illegal, albeit in his own country. Gideon Levy of Haaretz reports that the police beat him with clubs and brass knuckles and revoked his permit. Only Jewish settlers may move freely.

In the United States in June 2018, following President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, US officials at the US Mexican border separated more than 2,300 children from their parents. Initially warehoused in cages, the children were sent to detention centres spread across 17 states. At the beginning of 2021, the parents of 545 children still cannot be found.

In May 2020 the world witnessed the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman, part of a pattern of 981 police killings that year. Fatal police shootings of Black Americans are twice that of white victims and much higher than for any other ethnic group.

In Indian-occupied Kashmir, internet services were banned, and the media muzzled, though independent reporters claim that during military operations, at least 229 Kashmiri citizens have been killed. Babar Qadri, a prominent lawyer who had defended Kashmir’s rights to self-determination, was assassinated in his home.

Amnesty International records that on October 20 and 21, in a peaceful protest in Lagos against police brutality, Nigerian soldiers shot and killed 12 protesters. At an official investigation, the army were said not to be present, then it was admitted they were there but only fired blank rounds into the air. Bullet casings found at the scene matched those used by the Nigerian army. Relatives of the victims have searched in vain for the bodies of their loved ones.

In the UK, refugees have been dying in Home Office accommodation, including in Glasgow where refugee rights campaigners report toxic conditions in hotels housing refugees. Clare Morley from Care4Calais says, ‘Many refugees have crossed the Sahara Desert and made it through the hell of Libya, facing unimaginable hardship to get this far. But the way we treat them in this country is cruel.’

In Melbourne, 60 refugees have been locked down for eight months, 23 hours a day. Unable to social distance and frightened of catching Covid, they must tolerate the cruelty of not knowing when they’ll be released. With the support of the parliamentary opposition’s Medevac legislation, the 60 young men had been brought to the mainland for medical treatment after years of offshore detention, but to gain revenge against their political opponents, the Morrison government must punish the refugees.

Explaining cruelty as policy

Inherent in cruelty as policy is a fascination with violence, as in leaders’ top-down abuse of power. Such practice may be direct, as in the indefinite containment of refugees, or indirect, as in neo-liberal economic policies that ensure millions of citizens go hungry or become homeless.

A banality of evil confounds any claim that only a few bad apples commit cruelty. In retrospect this looks like an evil of banality, so taken for granted are these shameful periods of history, so easily silenced are the populations in whose name these policies are pursued

In each state, large bureaucracies such as the US Department of Justice, Home Affairs in Australia, the UK’s Home Office and in Israel the Prison Service facilitate cruel policies even if staff might be reluctant to support them. Cruelty needs administrative records and processing.

Political cultures have fostered sadism, a pleasure in exercising control by hurting a person, an animal or the environment. Such conduct is justified by an alleged need to protect national security, and by pragmatism – do what you can get away with – in contexts that make cruelty toward the weak, such as asylum seekers, look like a mission.

President Trump hurries to execute federal prisoners. A British judge refuses bail for Julian Assange. The Israeli government provides Covid vaccines for hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers but not for Palestinians. In West Papua, Indigenous people face murder, rape and destruction by Indonesian forces. In Western Sahara, the Kingdom of Morocco maintains the systematic repression of Sahrawis fighting for rights of self-determination.

Not to be outdone in the cruelty stakes, the thuggish government of Russian President Putin imprisons the impressively brave Alexei Navalny.

Fostering humanitarian alternatives

After the Second World War, citizens’ expectations, leaders’ values and political cultures were encouraged to be different.

Standards for a humanitarian, rule-based order were set by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the UN’s Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. But in an age of amoral pragmatism, leaders’ violent policies and corresponding illiteracy about non-violence have made international law seem irrelevant.

When faced with life-threatening illnesses such as cancers, the sites of such disease must be identified before treatments can begin. In the same vein, cruelty as policy must be acknowledged before states and citizens can seek remedies, as in reviving respect for international law and conventions, and by demanding that politicians and diplomats speak truth to power.

Humanitarian alternatives to cruelty depend on a language of humanity, as in advocacy of non-violent, humane governance pursued by a non-destructive, life-enhancing politics. Such a redefinition of politics would include the responsibility to promote equality and preserve planet earth. Too much to ask?

Experts Warn Civil Rights Fallout from COVID Could be Far Worse Than the Pandemic Itself

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/01/2021 - 5:50am in

The very first executive order Joe Biden signed upon becoming the forty-sixth President of the United States was the national mask mandate he promised at the Democratic National Convention back in August. The order makes face coverings and social distancing mandatory on all federal property and a legal requisite for interstate commerce. The move signals a clear intent on the part of his administration to double down on the “authoritarian” emergency measures – as described in a recent paper from Oxford University – implemented in the wake of the pandemic crisis and sets the stage for what may be the greatest threat to human rights and civil liberties the world has ever known.

Under the cover of a public health emergency, governments around the globe have imposed a litany of authoritarian measures to curb freedom of movement, assembly, and association. The implications have not been lost on most of us and pockets of resistance have sprung up in various cities and towns across America and the world. Even academia has now begun to examine the risks these measures pose to the rights enshrined in international treaties like the American Convention on Human Rights or Pact of San Jose, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Arab Charter on Human Rights among others.


 

A study published in Oxford University’s Journal of Law and Biosciences explores how these restrictions are leading the world down a path of totalitarian rule, that threatens to eviscerate decades of hard-won social progress through the expansion of surveillance and the “excessive and disproportionate” application of emergency measures across different countries. The researchers expose troubling examples of how governments have availed themselves of indefinite curfews, quarantines, and public humiliation to target migrants or other marginalized populations, which the authors judge to be “are far beyond what would be necessary to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19, and in some cases bear little relation to that otherwise legitimate public health objective.

Additionally, the study’s authors underline the need for a more common-sense approach and decry the “Wuhan-inspired all-or-nothing approach to viral containment,” setting a “dangerous precedent for future pandemics and disasters, with the global copycat response indicating an impending ‘pandemic’ of a different sort, that of authoritarianization. With a gratuitous toll being inflicted on democracy, civil liberties, fundamental freedoms, healthcare ethics, and human dignity, this has the potential to unleash humanitarian crises no less devastating than COVID-19 in the long run.”

covid measures

A National Guardsman walks through a neighborhood informing residents of self quarantine orders in Westerly, R.I. David Goldman | AP

Reports out of Germany confirm that at least four states in the European nation are in the process of setting up detention camps for “repeat offenders” of that country’s health protocols. Rule-breakers will be held in facilities specially built for the purpose in three of the German localities, while a refugee camp will be used to hold offenders in the eastern state of Saxony, considered to be a “bastion of xenophobic and Neo-Nazi sentiment” by other German states, according to Al-Jazeera.

The idea that such extreme methods could come to the United States probably hasn’t crossed the mind of most Americans. After all, many still believe in a system of checks and balances that is designed to prevent such egregious overreach by the government. But, the trend is very clear for anyone who has been paying attention and – more significantly – the legal prerequisites are already in place for such an eventuality, as one unsuspecting veteran of the U.S. Navy would come to find out, and, which according to constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead and founder of the Rutherford Institute, allows the government “to rescind the 4th amendment rights,” removing the people’s right to be secure in their homes and protect against unreasonable searches and seizures, to name just one of the issues his story presents.

 

The contract  

What Frank Peterson (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) thought would be a relatively quick visit to the local VA emergency room to deal with a couple of broken ribs turned into a shocking revelation about just how far the country he served has come to losing the freedoms that he, and generations of his family before him, enlisted to defend. 

Frank endured broken ribs before and thought he could tough it out at home. Earlier that day, he and his fiancé had been driving back from the suburbs when they came across a terrible car accident. Always one to help, he pulled over and tried to check on the driver of the tow truck that had slammed into a tree at the bottom of a ravine. In the process of trying to put out a fire that had ignited inside in the vehicle, Frank crushed his rib cage while rolling down the big gully with a fire extinguisher. 

The pain was too intense to sleep off and by 2:00 am he’d thought better of it and headed down to 1101 Veterans Dr. in Lexington, Kentucky for treatment at the VA health care facility. Frank informed them he had been feeling a bit under the weather. A slight cough and some fatigue. Following protocol, he was administered a COVID-19 test and given a general rundown of the precautions he should take while he waited for the results, which came back positive a few days later. 

Along with the results came the Lexington-Fayette County’s Health Department (LFCHD) and an Isolation Order requiring Frank’s signature. The remarkable document sent to him via email stipulates the responsibilities he, as “a source of infection of a communicable disease,” must adhere to during the 14-day self-quarantine period. These include having prior approval of the LFCHD in order to leave the County, receive visitors, travel “by any public, commercial or healthcare conveyance” and numerous other restrictions.

Download the PDF file .

While these stipulations are certainly problematic on their own, the most egregious encroachment upon civil liberties is reserved for the last two bullet points, which state that should Frank be found to be in violation of any one of the aforementioned requisites, the LFCHD can file a lawsuit against him in the state Circuit Court and, in addition, reserves the right to “re-evaluate this order prior to determining when the isolation period may be lifted”.

Frank has since been released from self-isolation. But, as he told MintPress, he never signed the document, which Whitehead considers to be the best protection he could have afforded himself under the circumstances. 

 

The ultimate human rights loophole 

Had Frank signed the Isolation Order, he would have waived all of his constitutional rights and could have potentially faced criminal charges, according to Mr. Whitehead, who spoke to MintPress about his situation and the terrifying implications for all Americans.

The judicial basis for the power currently accumulating in the hands of the biopharma cartels and their agents in the U.S. government, like acting Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, comes from the landmark Jacobson v Massachusetts case of 1905 that upheld states’ rights to enforce compulsory vaccination laws. The Supreme Court’s decision created a perfect loophole that allowed the abrogation of all constitutional rights, ruling that individual liberty was not absolute and subject to the police power of the state in the case of a public health emergency.

 COVID-19 rapid testing site

The floor of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center COVID-19 rapid testing site operated by the Rhode Island National Guard, Dec. 1, 2020. David Goldman | AP

The seminal decision has never been successfully challenged in the lower courts since and is the precedent that underpins the statutes cited in Frank Peterson’s Isolation Order of the applicable Kentucky state and county codes. It is state statutes that allow such a draconian order to be enforced, including arrest and criminal charges.

“It is deeply entrenched in American law, that with a health crisis like this the government has what’s called a ‘compelling state interest’ to protect the general safety of the public,” Whitehead explains, adding that this particular judicial principle raises the question of whether Americans “have any rights at all that cannot be emaciated.”

Indeed, emergency powers have served as the backbone of the American executive branch throughout the first two decades of the twenty-first century. A global pandemic is nothing less than the mother of all emergencies in which our rights can be suspended indefinitely through long-established legal devices, that seemed to lie dormant in obscure law tomes only to be weaponized at this very moment in history.

 

The best intentions camps  

For the moment, nobody has come knocking on Frank Peterson’s door asking questions about the Isolation Order and why he refused to sign it, and ultimately, laws don’t mean much unless they are enforced. But, it doesn’t mean they won’t eventually.

In terms of defying such Orwellian tactics in court, Whitehead, who spent forty years practicing law in Washington D.C., warns that “courts are the government, too” and that the principle of compelling state interest is more than likely to be upheld in every and any case that challenges the measures undertaken under the guise of public health. 


 

Preserving the “right to say you’re not sick,” as Whitehead observed, will largely depend on our ability to resist signing off our rights. Even in this case, however, legislative proposals wait in the wings to counter such acts of resistance. One such proposal has been introduced into the New York State Assembly every year for the last five years by Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, a Democrat representing District 58 in Brooklyn.

The “dormant” bill was written as a result of the Kaci Hickox case, a nurse who was held against her will in New Jersey after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, despite twice testing negative for the virus. Perry’s bill would open the door to detention camps in the United States for individuals who run afoul of state-imposed public health measures “in the event that the governor declares a state of health emergency due to an epidemic of any communicable disease.” 

Forced Quarantine

State troopers are stationed across from the house of Kaci Hickox during her forced quarantine in Fort Kent, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty | AP

The bill’s language is unambiguous, stating clearly that “Upon determining by clear and convincing evidence that the health 9 of others is or may be endangered by a case, contact or carrier, or suspected case, contact or carrier of a contagious disease […] the governor or his or her delegee, including, but not limited to the commissioner or the heads of local health departments, may order the removal and/or detention of such a person or of a group of such persons by issuing a single order…”

While mainstream publications like Politico have tried to downplay the bill’s significance and throw around terms like “conspiracy theories” to dissuade readers from taking warnings by the bill’s opponents seriously, it doesn’t take a tinfoil hat to see which way the wind is blowing and for Assembly Bill A416 to move from committee to the floor of the state Senate and onto the desk of Governor Cuomo.

If such a bill were passed and signed in the state of New York or elsewhere, people like Frank Peterson who refused to sign an Isolation Order or, quite simply, flouted the new mask mandate signed into law by President Biden yesterday evening, could be rounded up and sent to a detention camp. 

As Whitehead has been warning, these measures “will be enforced by a militarized police,” which have been steadily growing stronger in the United States for years and which could very well end up merging with federal law enforcement agencies as the related push for “domestic terrorism” laws come into play.

Feature photo | MintPress News | John Schoebel | Army National Guard via AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Experts Warn Civil Rights Fallout from COVID Could be Far Worse Than the Pandemic Itself appeared first on MintPress News.

Defend Iranian Woman Labor Leader Parvin Mohammadi

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/01/2021 - 3:56pm in

On December 21, 2020, the Iranian government sentenced Parvin Mohammadi, in absentia, to a year in prison on charges of “sedition.” She has refused to go to prison, continues to challenge the authorities, and has now gone into hiding.

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The post Defend Iranian Woman Labor Leader Parvin Mohammadi appeared first on New Politics.

Western governments will have blood on their hands unless they stop persecuting Julian Assange

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/01/2021 - 6:42am in

Tags 

Human rights

The case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is complex, containing elements of law, freedom of speech and of the media, journalism, politics, international relations and health. In the recent hearing to determine whether Assange should be extradited to the US, health became the dominant discourse. He may die if several Western governments do not stop persecuting him.

Assange is seriously mentally ill. The magistrate in the extradition proceeding decided he could not be extradited to the US because if he were, it was highly likely he would die by suicide. Other aspects of the legal reasoning in that judgment were open to criticism, but this one wasn’t.

Assange is a political prisoner, having been locked up for 10 years at the behest of the governments of the US, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Ecuador and, because of its neglect of his cause, Australia.

Assange was the director of Wikileaks at the time it released a hoard of US government documents revealing details of American political and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some quarter of a million documents were involved. Extracts were published in association with the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde and El Pais. The US went after Assange, not the newspaper editors.

Wikileaks was not in league with any nation that was America’s enemy. It sought to expose to the world the nefarious and sometimes deadly activity in which the US and, later, other governments had engaged. It acted like any journalist with a brief to investigate matters of national security might have done. It disclosed classified documents in the public interest so that news organisations could report on their content and the public could make evidence-based assessments as to the propriety of the actions that had been revealed.

Nevertheless, the US government argued that the documents’ disclosure might have caused serious damage. The contention was that in releasing the trove of documents, Wikileaks had endangered the work and the lives of local people who had acted as informers on behalf of the US government and its allies.

It has not been widely reported, however, that the US government commissioned an internal investigation to study the effect of the disclosures and to produce a list of people who might have been killed because of the revelations. After an exhaustive examination, the team of 120 counter-intelligence operatives, under the direction of Brigadier Robert Carr, determined that it had not been able to find a single person who had died as a result of the Wikileaks releases.

Despite this finding, even as late as the recent UK extradition hearing, the US government has continued to assert that a number of of its military collaborators and citizen informers had been killed or injured as a result of Wikileaks’ disclosures.

Assange had been working for some time in the UK. However, his freedom ended not long after the document dump in 2010. The cause was allegations of rape brought against him by prosecutors in Stockholm. The Swedish Government sought his extradition from the UK to answer questions in relation to alleged offences that had occurred during two separate episodes of sexual intercourse with women while in the Swedish capital.

Apart from those involved no one knows exactly what happened on those two evenings. The stories of the participants are starkly opposed. Assange claimed his innocence from the outset. The two complainants’ accounts could not be dismissed. That said, Swedish prosecutors eventually discontinued all relevant criminal proceedings. Assange was neither tried nor convicted of rape or any other sexual misdemeanour.

The significance of these events lies not in the facts about the sexual interactions, however, but in the extradition proceedings that emerged from them. As soon as the Swedish Government initiated extradition proceedings, the UK Government took Assange into detention. There followed an extraordinary series of events.

Assange was desperately afraid that if he were extradited to face charges in Sweden, no matter what the outcome, the Swedish Government would send him on to the US to face prosecution in relation to Wikileaks’ activities in publishing classified information. The focus of US attention remained upon the Iraq/Afghanistan revelations. The US Government denied it intended to charge Assange but, drip by drip, news leaked out that a Grand Jury had been convened to determine what criminal charges he would face if returned to the custody of US authorities.

To avoid extradition to the US, Assange skipped bail in the UK and took up asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. This foreshadowed a personal disaster. The UK Government established a permanent police presence outside the Embassy and made it clear Assange would be arrested as soon as he tried to leave it.

Inside the Embassy, he had two rooms, one tiny living room and an equally tiny bathroom. His stay at the Embassy lasted seven years. He could not go outside. He was deprived of fresh air, sunlight, the ability to move and exercise freely and access to medical care. The UK Government refused to allow his transfer to a teaching hospital for medical treatment. Doctors were discouraged from visiting him at the Embassy. It was as if he were in solitary confinement.

Foreign governments placed immense pressure on Ecuador to allow them to engage in surveillance. Assange was subject to constant watch. He was surveilled in private and with visitors, including family, friends, journalists, lawyers and doctors. His rights to privacy, freedom of speech, legal professional privilege and doctor-patient care were consistently violated. After some years of confinement, his health began to deteriorate.

In 2015, the United Nations Committee on Arbitrary Detention determined that Assange’s confinement inside the Embassy constituted a grave breach of his right to be free from arbitrary detention. It observed that he had been denied the opportunity to defend himself against the Swedish allegations; the duration of his detention had been incompatible with the presumption of innocence; he had been denied the right to contest the necessity and proportionality of his arrest, and his detention for five years had put his health at serious risk.

In a letter to The Lancet, 117 British doctors complained that Julian had been treated cruelly and suffered medical neglect. They said:

“We condemn the torture of Assange. We condemn the denial of his fundamental right to appropriate health care. We condemn the climate of fear surrounding the provision of health care to him. We condemn the violations of his right to doctor-patient confidentiality. Politics cannot be allowed to interfere with the right to health and the practice of medicine.”

Following a change of government in Ecuador in 2018, Assange was dragged by London police from the Ecuadorian Embassy and locked up in Britain’s notorious Belmarsh prison along with the nation’s most dangerous criminals. He had pleaded guilty to breaching bail and was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment.

After he was detained by the UK, the US Government finally showed its hand. It charged him with 17 counts of violating the US Espionage Act. His ‘espionage’ consisted of releasing the original trove of Iraq/Afghan files. Among other things, these files disclosed alleged war crimes, the deaths of civilians at the hands of American troops, the infliction of torture, arbitrary detention and governmental corruption. Wikileaks had provided crucial information upon which news organisations and citizens around the world could discern the morass of the Middle-East war.

The Espionage Act defines the unauthorised publication of national defence or classified information as a felony. Critically, it does not allow for a public interest defence. That means a jury is barred from taking into account the difference between a whistleblower exposing government crimes to the press, and a spy selling state secrets to a foreign government.

The prosecution constitutes a grave threat to independent journalism. Every national security journalist who reports on US classified information now faces possible espionage charges. It paves the way for the US government to indict other international journalists and publishers. It normalises other countries’ prosecution of journalists as spies.

A few weeks ago, a UK magistrate refused the US Government’s request that Assange be extradited for trial. She did so because of the risk he might suffer grave damage to his mental health. He was not granted bail, however, and remains in Belmarsh.

Assange’s mental state is critically compromised. It was clear, for example, that he could not properly comprehend the nature and content of his extradition hearing late last year. Following a detailed examination of his situation in Belmarsh prison, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment reported that the cumulative effect of his shocking treatment over a decade had constituted psychological torture. His conclusion was damning:

“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and persecution, I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up deliberately to isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”

His detention must end – now.

Line between sledging and racism continues to blur

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 17/01/2021 - 6:01am in

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Human rights

An invidious Sydney tradition surfaced again at the third Test match between Australia and India last week, with six spectators ejected from a stand for allegedly racist chants towards a nearby Indian outfielder.

To top that, the Australian captain Tim Paine was caught on a stump mic angrily sledging an Indian player as a “dickhead” and former captain Steve Smith was accused of deliberately scuffing the crease line used as a marker by an Indian batsman.

There is a doctorate in cultural studies here for someone. Sledging has a long history in Sydney sport (eg “Saw your missus up the Cross last night”) and repartee from the grandstand is part of the show here as in many other cities around the world.

“For more than a century abusive behaviour went unchecked at Australian cricket grounds as if it was some sort of slapstick sideshow,” Robert Craddock wrote in the Daily Telegraph. “Some of it was. Cricket is nothing without crowd involvement and we all love a good one-liner. But much of it was crassness masquerading as cleverness. Cowards have been hiding in the masses. There was somehow a feeling that taunts that would be ­totally unacceptable in offices, homes or any public space were somehow permissible when shouted from row 23 after two or three or 10 beers.”

Not any more, Craddock added, along with most other cricket writers. When Mohammed Siraj, the star bowler on the outfield between overs, had play stopped last Sunday because of hostile chanting, something changed. “Watching a Test match come to a standstill in Australia because of crowd abuse was distressing in one way but strangely comforting in another,” Craddock said. “Cricket has simply had enough of racist crowd behaviour — and not a moment too soon.”

Cricket officials and police are still trying to pin down what was said. Siraj said he heard “brown dog” and “monkeys”; others in the crowd including an Indian-Australian said they heard nothing explicitly racist like that, but teasing plays on Siraj’s name. Instead of dismissing it as “banter” or “heckling”, such writers as Gideon Haigh and Malcolm Knox effectively said, “come on, who are you kidding?”

“For a start, the Indian objection is cumulative, to the long-term boorishness of Sydney crowds,” Haigh wrote. “They were invited to report an ­instance if they heard such; Siraj did. And, frankly, who would willingly soak up such prolonged ­stupidity? Any reader who thinks so is invited to forward their work address: I’d be pleased to follow them all day shouting a drunken joke about their name, and taking pleasure in their misfortune and discomfiture. For another thing, racial epithets are not a precondition of racism. On the contrary, racism can be most pernicious where it is politest.”

Haigh and others pointed out that Siraj was particularly vulnerable: on his first tour and first long trip out of India, son of an auto-rickshaw driver from Hyderabad. When his father died six weeks ago, he remained on the tour rather than return for the funeral.

Then we have our politicians trying to paper over things, with NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian saying racist abuse against an Indian cricket player would be “so un-Australian” if proven to have occurred. To which Indigenous cricket star Dan Christian commented: “It’s not just an Australian cricket problem, it’s an Australian society problem.” And India’s Ravichandran Ashwin, who got the sledging from Paine, said racism had been part of his Australian touring experience for 10 years.

“Cricketers say they get abused all over the world but Australia is ground zero, its crowds the most hostile and abusive,” says Sharda Ugra, a senior sports journalist with sports channel ESPN Cricinfo. It also occurred in India. “That too without alcohol as an excuse, as it is not allowed in Indian grounds,” she wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday. “Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium’s fairly well-to-do North Stand has chanted racist abuse en masse at West Indian Mervyn Dillon and Australia’s Andrew Symonds (who in 2007 was also abused in Baroda).”

The “ripple effect of the Black Lives Matter was now forcing sport to face up to racism”, Ugra said. “Yet creating non-toxic environments, not just in Australian cricket but in India and elsewhere, depends on more than institutional codes or security ejecting yahoos. They can only be built and reinforced by the constant, vocal disapproval of everyone around a sport’s racists and bullies. Regardless of which seat they occupy. Even if that stuff once used to be part of the game.”

Sledging and heckling used to be just between us and the English, inaudible in the broadcast rooms. Now there are cameras and microphones everywhere, journalists from all around the cricketing world, and live play shown worldwide. Australian stars spend part of the year playing in the Indian Premier League for huge salaries. Hence Paine’s quick apology to Ashwin, and careful scrutiny of Smith’s crease scuffling, which brought back the ball-tampering episode in South Africa three years ago.

The Australian team is still on probation from that. “Some, predictably, have piled on to the Australian team, claiming three years of steady progress had all been undone by one bad day at the office,” wrote Ben Horne in the Daily Telegraph. “This was always going to happen. The first time the Australians stumbled, the baying mob would appear again.”

Deploying a strange metaphor, Horne said the Australians could not complain: “You may have only ever kissed one goat, but every time after that you allow your gaze to linger on a fetching specimen someone is going to think you’re at it again, but they’re not.”

Quite. But let’s leave with this summing up from Sharda Ugra about what far-off Indians see on their screens:

“In India’s long-distance view, there are two or three Australias. There’s MasterChef Australia, seen more regularly these days on Indian TV screens than cricket. Diverse participants, warm judges, mouth-watering feasts.

Then up pops live cricket, MasterChef Australia’s alter-ego: eye-grabbing, throat-constricting, high skill action, trite mouthing off between players and, in unsavoury leftovers from SCG 2021, half a dozen yahoos ejected for racist abuse.

A third confusing track runs alongside this: of Australian and English captains deciding not to take a knee last September followed by Cricket Australia introducing the Barefoot Circle and instituting the Mullagh Medal, in honour of Indigenous Australian cricketer Johnny Mullagh. Many times for Indians, Australia doesn’t add up.”

Children in Prison: shame, Australia, shame

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/01/2021 - 5:57am in

Tags 

Human rights

In February 2012 X Riyan and X Hadi were led into the Perth District Courtroom 7.1 by uniformed security guards.


Credit – Unsplash

From their curious titles it seemed the defendants were protected informants in an East Timor spy scandal so given codenames; the reality was more mundane. Many Indonesians have only one name – a fact Australian bureaucracy can’t accept. So both men were labelled X.

Riyan was 28. Hadi said he was 14 and the beardless lad certainly looked like a frightened early adolescent. However, the prosecution said he was an adult.

We now know he wasn’t so Hadi is on the list of 122 claimants for compensation from the Federal government. They say they were sent to adult prisons when authorities should have known they were children.

The cases are listed for a management hearing in the Federal Court on 21 February.

Back in the Perth court nine years ago, Riyan and Hadi pleaded not guilty to the charge of unlawfully transporting aliens into Australia. Facing them across the almost empty room (an Indonesian diplomat occasionally looked in) sat the jury of 12 Australian citizens.

Hadi said in May 2010 he crewed a boat carrying coconuts from Java to Flores. Heading back they stopped at Probolinggo on East Java’s north coast, collected 54 Afghan men and headed to sea. On 3 June they were boarded by an Australian naval patrol boat.

Hadi says he didn’t get paid and hadn’t negotiated a salary. The prosecutor thought this incredible. Through an interpreter Hadi explained Indonesians don’t quibble and that he didn’t know where they were going.

There was no suggestion they were the Mr Bigs who’d recruited the passengers and hired the vessel.

When sentencing Riyan and Hadi to the mandatory five-year minimum, Judge Richard Keen said jailing would ‘bring home the message’ that Australia treats people smuggling seriously.

Now the message is heading in another direction: Australia must treat those it arrests lawfully.

The lead plaintiff in next month’s Federal Court compensation action is Ali Yasmin from the island of Lembata east of Flores. His story only came to light in 2010 when JP Colin Singer was on an official visit to Perth’s Hakea Prison.

The 1,225-bed jail is no place for the immature and vulnerable. It’s for men remanded in custody or who’ve just been sentenced. Every year around 7,000 murderers, thugs, paedophiles and thieves check in and out of the legal system’s terminal.

Under 18s must be held apart under the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Australia is a signatory. So is Indonesia.

As I reported for Indonesia’s Strategic Review, a doctor told Singer there were kids in Hakea: ‘I thought this impossible. I had great faith in the Australian justice system and believed it to be fair.

‘Then I saw them – they were Indonesians, pre-pubescent frightened children, certainly not men.’ Among the kids he spoke to was Yasmin who had no paperwork to prove his claim to be 14. ‘He was alone and clinging to a fence, clearly traumatized’.

It was fortuitous Singer was on visitor duty at the jail, and not just because he sounded the alert. He’s worked in the oil and gas industry in Indonesia since 1989, is married to an Indonesian, has a home in West Java and could communicate with the prisoners.

Singer claimed 60 juveniles were in WA’s adult jails. The government said there were none because they’d been confirmed as adults by the AFP using wrist X-rays. They referenced a 1942 US bone atlas devised for Caucasians and with a four-year plus-or-minus margin of error. On these grounds it was decided Yasmin was 19.

The Australian Human Rights Commission got involved and concluded Australia had breached international human rights law by giving ‘little weight to the rights of this cohort of young Indonesians’ as prosecutors and police faced pressure to ‘take people smuggling seriously’.

In 2013 TV journalist Hamish Macdonald was the first Australian to visit Yasmin’s family in Indonesia and see school records showing the teen had been born in 1996. The documents were faxed to the Indonesian Consul General in Perth. They weren’t legally verified so weren’t presented as evidence.

Had the papers been accepted by the court Yasmin would have been whisked out of the country. Instead he was convicted and sent to icy Albany, latitude 35 degrees. His island is just below the equator.

Yasmin was put to work in the laundry. Under demands from the Australian Government, WA prison regulations were changed to prevent the Indonesians sending their meagre earnings back to their families. (State jails are used to house federal prisoners.)

Further petty malice showed an anxious electorate the government would stay hard and mean. Some repatriated kids were allegedly dumped in Bali with no means of reaching their remote homes. Only after the International Organisation for Migration got involved were escorts provided and fares back to the villages.

The doubts about ages eventually got too loud to ignore. Yasmin and 14 others were released ‘on licence’ in 2012. Five years later the WA Court of Criminal Appeal quashed Yasmin’s sentence.

The judges wrote they were ‘satisfied that a miscarriage of justice … has occurred. If the appellant was aged under 18 years when he allegedly committed the offence, the mandatory minimum penalty … for an adult, did not apply to him.’

Imagine the outrage if Aussie kids had suffered the same fate in Indonesia. In 2011 the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard got involved in the case of a boy arrested in Bali on alleged drug charges. He was briefly detained then repatriated after a furious media campaign.

The average time spent in detention by the Indonesian kids was 31.6 months. A wrong had eventually been recognised but not righted. Despite all the current legal busyness there’s no certainty the Indonesians will be recompensed for their misery, fear and lost years.

Yasmin is now 25, married and has a daughter. He speaks confidently on the phone in excellent English learned in prison and said he bears no animosity – except towards the defence lawyers who didn’t tell the court they had papers confirming he was a child.

‘Yasmin is an Indonesian hero,’ Singer told this writer last year. “He helped the others settle in. He calmed things down in jail and acted as an interpreter. He’s had a horrendous time but his resilience has been spectacular.

“In all this I found most prison staff to be compassionate. My criticism is for the bureaucrats, politicians and lawyers who turned away from their responsibilities and ignored the rights of children.’

The Guardian has reported the Australian government rejecting most of the plaintiffs’ allegations as ‘scandalous and embarrassing’, and claims of alleged negligence are to circumvent time limitations on the court process.

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