Tasers are Lethal Weapons and Must be Regulated and Restricted as Such

Tasers are Lethal Weapons and Must be Regulated and Restricted as Such

The recent death of a Sydney man after being tasered by police is tragic, made even more so because it is only the latest example of inappropriate and often outrageous use of these stun guns by some police officers.  Governments and police services need to justify how it is in the interests of the community that police carry such devices. The recent death in Sydney was at least the third recorded Taser death in Australia.  Two men also died last year, one after being tasered up to 28 times by police in Townsville.

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Time for Concerted Action from Governments, Business and NGOs to Reduce Poverty and Promote Human Development

This week, world leaders attended a United Nations summit to mark the 10th anniversary of the Millennium Declaration – a framework of measures designed to reduce extreme poverty, which was adopted by all 189 member states of the UN.The Millennium Development Goals, introduced with such ambition ten years ago, have been the focus of the global effort to improve the lives of billions of people around the world.  They have achieved an extraordinary level of consensus and support.  Nearly every government around the world, as well as business, financial institutions, UN agencies, donors, non-government organisations and individuals have committed to the goals in various ways.

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The UK Election and the Future of the Human Rights Act: Australia Has Much to Gain

The UK Election and the Future of the Human Rights Act: Australia Has Much to Gain

The unusual result of the recent British general election appears to have saved the country’s Human Rights Act from immediate extinction.  The Conservative Party had been clear about its intention to repeal the Act if elected into government.  Passed in 1998 at the very start of Labour’s long tenure in office, the Act requires legislation to be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and equips the courts to re-interpret legislation to achieve this end.  But it does not allow the judges to strike down laws on the model of the US constitution or any of the many analogous European systems. 

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Human Rights, Australian Values and Australian Foreign Policy – What is Our Role in the World?

Human Rights, Australian Values and Australian Foreign Policy – What is Our Role in the World?

Of the myriad issues inadequately covered in the 2010 Federal Election campaign, the issues as to Australian values and identity, and how these values shape the way we understand our role and responsibility in the world, must figure high. In the leaders' debate, for example, the only discussion of Australian foreign policy and our place in the world arose in the context of the 'Timor Solution' and the war in Afghanistan. This is not the way things should be.  With real leadership, elections present an opportunity to tap into admirable but often latent aspects of national identity, a concept explored by Canadian political scientist Alison Brysk in her new book, Global Good Samaritans: Human Rights as Foreign Policy.

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International Treaty Body Reform Should Protect Human Rights on the Ground

International Treaty Body Reform Should Protect Human Rights on the Ground

The United Nations human rights treaty bodies constitute a cornerstone of the international human rights supervision system.  The first of the ‘committees’ commenced its work in 1970.  By now, there are 9 of them with a total of 145 elected members.  We are just a handful of ratifications away from the creation of the 10th committee under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.  

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