Attorney-General Christian Porter has approved the criminal prosecution of a former Australian spy and his lawyer for their role revealing that the Australian Government had bugged the East Timorese cabinet room during sensitive negotiations about oil and gas revenue.
Charities and unions will largely be exempt from the foreign agent register if recommendations from a parliamentary committee’s inquiry into foreign influence are acted on.
Australia has a new espionage and secrecy regime, after the Parliament voted to pass the Turnbull Government’s proposals on Thursday evening. Over the last six months, civil society and lawyers’ groups, including the Human Rights Law Centre, raised serious concerns over impacts on freedom of expression.
New criminal offences will make it easier to charge and prosecute prejudice motivated threats or incitement of violence, under new laws tabled by New South Wales Parliament this week.
New laws proposed by the Department of Home Affairs would authorise the creation of a “dragnet database”, compiling images of innocent Australians – including children – from their drivers’ licences, identification cards and passport photos.
The growing threat to press freedom posed by laws that fail to properly protect journalists and their sources has been highlighted by a new report by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.
The Human Rights Law Centre welcomed a Parliamentary Committee report which recognises major problems in the Turnbull Government’s foreign donations bill as it applies to third parties (individuals and organisations that do not stand for office).
Proposed amendments to the Turnbull Government’s secrecy laws are a step in the right direction but don’t go far enough, the Human Rights Law Centre told a parliamentary committee this morning.
In response to serious concerns about the harshness and breadth of the Government’s proposed secrecy laws, the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Christian Porter, has unveiled amendments to improve the protections available to journalists who publish potentially sensitive government information.
The Turnbull Government’s anti-democratic slide has been criticised at the United Nations Human Rights Council overnight, with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders delivering a major report on Australian democracy.
The Australian Government’s proposed legislation to overhaul Australia’s secrecy laws is excessive and poorly designed, the Human Rights Law Centre has told the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.
“Charities have enormous expertise to contribute to public debates. Whether it’s running a homeless shelter or a community health service – charities are uniquely placed to understand how government policies impact on the people and communities they serve. The Government should be encouraging charities to participate in public discussions, not making it harder for them,” said Hugh de Kretser.
Civil Voices, an initiative by Pro Bono Australia in partnership with the Human Rights Law Centre, has found Australian not-for-profit organisations are treading carefully in their advocacy work. This trend threatens to silence a sector that has much to contribute to Australian public debate and policy making.
Charities in Australia will be silenced from speaking publicly on issues in an election, under law reforms announced by the Australian Government. The Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the Special Minister of State today outlined plans to ban international donations to charities that engage publicly in election issues.
Australia was condemned overnight by a UN Human Rights Committee for its human rights record on a range of issues including refugees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ rights, youth justice and democratic freedoms.
Overnight Australia was slammed by the UN Human Rights Committee for its “chronic non-compliance” with, and disengagement from, that Committee’s work. Australia’s record on human rights was found lacking as part of the Committee’s review into Australia’s protection of civil and political rights.
The High Court of Australia has ruled that key provisions of Tasmania’s excessive anti-protest legislation are invalid because they violate the implied freedom of political communication in the Australian Constitution.The Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre, Hugh de Kretser, said the decision was a big win for democracy in Australia.
Media Alert: At 10:15am Wednesday 18 October the High Court of Australia will hand down its decision in a landmark case which argued that Tasmania’s excessive anti-protest laws violate the implied freedom of political communication in the Australian Constitution.
During the same week that Australia is expected to be granted a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, an expert UN committee will grill the Australian Government over its own human rights record.
“This is the most significant UN position Australia has sought since the Security Council. Relatively speaking Australia is likely to be a positive force for reform on the Council, but if it wants to have the credibility required to be a true human rights leader it can't continue to blatantly breach international law itself. There's no doubt that it's cruel treatment of refugees will hamstring Australia's efforts on Council," said Emily Howie.
The Australian Government must ensure transparency of its intelligence sharing with other countries to safeguard Australian citizen’s private information, a coalition of privacy and human rights organisations said with the launch of a new campaign.
“One of the things that makes our democracy great is having an informed public debate with a range of voices. Charities working for public benefit are and should be a key voice in these debates. The Government should be safeguarding their free speech, not stifling it,” said Emily Howie.
The Australian Government should create an environment that encourages all not-for-profit groups to speak freely and contribute to public debate the Human Rights Law Centre today told the Department of the Treasury which is conducting an inquiry into potential reforms to the Deductible Gift Recipient tax arrangements.
“Although Australia has, in many ways, a strong democracy, secrecy has noticeably increased across government. Australia’s commitment to the Open Government Forum is a step towards addressing some of the transparency issues that hold us back,” said Emily Howie.
Australian governments must act now to safeguard and encourage vibrant debate on matters of public interest, 15 non-government organisations have said in a new Human Rights Law Centre report to be launched by Gillian Triggs at the Progress conference in Melbourne.
On Tuesday the High Court of Australia will hear a landmark case seeking to strike down Tasmania’s excessive anti-protest laws that unreasonably limit people’s freedom to stand together and speak out on matters that they care about.
“We are seeing a clear and worrying wave of state-based laws that restrict the ability of Australians to stand together and speak out on issues that they care deeply about. The government may disagree with protesters' views on a particular issue, but shutting down peaceful assemblies only serves to weaken our democracy,” said HRLC's Emily Howie.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should make the most of his seemingly close relationship with Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo to push for unfettered media access and human rights monitoring in Papua.
“The push to weaken the laws by some has run aground. It’s hard to imagine what those pushing for change want people to be able to say that they currently can’t. Any move to weaken the law itself would have sent a green light to racism,” said the Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Adrianne Walters.
Australia’s metadata retention regime should be overhauled to properly protect Australians from indiscriminate mass surveillance, the Human Rights Law Centre said in a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department today.
It was not Bob Brown’s first arrest, but it’s probably the one he’ll remember best.
Over the weekend, millions of demonstrators across the world took to the streets with a clear message for the new U.S. President: if you tread on women's rights, you've got a fight on your hands. It was a stunning display of the dynamic relationship between the state and its people and how democracy continues to operate in between elections.
While the exhibition, Another Day in Paradise which opens at the Campbelltown Arts Centre on Friday, is a chance to reflect on his life and the brutality of the death penalty, we mustn't shy away from a difficult home truth: the Australian Federal Police's role in his death.
Late last year, a friend told me that we need to make sure we don't look back in the future on human rights as just a passing phase. It was a comment that kept coming back to me over the past 12 months with Brexit, the re-rise of Pauline Hanson, the hardening of Turnbull and now Trump.
The HRLC's Tom Clarke looks at whether the back-peddling has already begun on Indonesia's announcement that it will let foreign journalists into West Papua.
Chan & Sukumaran have been denied the chance to learn from their mistakes. We owe it to them to learn from ours, writes the HRLC's Daniel Webb.
Human Rights Law Centre Executive Director, Hugh de Kretser, outlines what 2015 may have in store for human rights in Australia.
HRLC Executive Director, Hugh de Kretser, delivered a speech at the Australian Communities Foundation’s end of year event. Here’s what he had to say.
Across the globe, civil society advocacy is increasingly being threatened by laws and practices that criminalise protest, prevent association, threaten funding and curtail independence, writes the HRLC's Hugh de Kretser.
The Australian Human Rights Commission’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane, asks whether scrapping section 18C of the RDA will unleash a wave of humiliation of the vulnerable.