UNITY by lifemate


The national publication of the United Nations Association of Australia
March 31, 2006                 No 455                ISSN 1035-218X

Compiled from Federal parliamentary and other sources relevant to Australia's obligations
                                to the United Nations

Editor: Ian Mathews Ph: (02) 6281 4025 Fax (02) 6285 2529
Post: 4 Stone Place, Garran ACT 2605
E-mail: imathews@ozemail.com.au
Earlier editions of UNity 2004-05 and 2006 are on the UNAA website: www.unaa.org.au
or e-mail the editor.

In this edition …

   1. New IR laws, same HREOC protections
   2. NPT factor in new inquiry into Australia-India relations; Reviewing the treaty
       scrutiny process; Treaties Committee supports Investment Agreement with Turkey
   3. The nuclear dilemma: China and Iran
   4. NGOs lobby to change electoral Bill
   5. Committee to inquire into ‘electoral awareness’
   6. Tsunami aid: questions and answers
   7. Commission requests Ministers’ sworn statements
   8. Government opposes West Papua motion
   9. Human rights: farewell and welcome
   10. Academic killed in Baghdad
   11. Human Rights and the ‘long war’
   12. Privacy undermined by Telecommunications Bill
   13. Solon seeks care for life
   14. ACT v Commonwealth over gay marriage
   15. Australia part of UN poll monitors in Solomon Islands
   16. Social Justice and the Native Title Reports launched
   17. Australian Baha’is on persecution in Iran
   18. New human rights treaty website
   19. Great Barrier Reef ‘in danger’ bid
   20. AusAID-NGO emergency store
   21. Inquiry into Government’s green credentials
   22. WFUNA Secretary-General
   23. UN and UNAA contacts

 Items [24] Diary Dates [25] International Years [26] Job vacancies [27] Links to courses,
     conferences and reports are in the Supplement to UNity transmitted separately
[1] New IR laws, same HREOC protections

The new industrial relations laws which have caused protest and debate came into force on
March 27. While not immediately related to Australia’s membership of the United Nations, critics
of the legislation are citing possible human rights breaches inherent in the laws. Additionally,
there are suggestions that the new laws breach International Labour Organisation conventions, a
situation the Australian Government may be called on to explain as an ILO council member.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) is reminding employers that
federal and state equal opportunity laws still prohibit employers from dismissing people based on
grounds covered under the race, sex, disability and age discrimination Acts.

HREOC says companies with fewer than 100 employees are exempt from unfair dismissal laws.
However, all businesses, regardless of their size, must still adhere to equal opportunity laws and
affected employees (including casuals, contract workers, part-time and/or full-time) can still use
unlawful termination legislation and make a complaint to HREOC.

The Commission is an independent, national organisation which is responsible for investigating
and conciliating complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Sex Discrimination Act
1984, Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Age Discrimination Act 2004.

Grounds for complaint under these Acts may include discrimination based on: sex, pregnancy,
marital status or family responsibilities; race, colour, national origin, ethnic origin or descent;
actual or imputed disability, medical condition, and; mature aged or youth discrimination.

Complaints can also be made under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act
1986 (HREOCA). One area of complaint under this Act is unfair treatment in employment and
occupation on the grounds of religion, political opinion, social origin, criminal record, sexual
preference or trade union activity.

HREOC says it is prepared for any potential increase in complaints received under its laws and
will investigate and conciliate complaints in an impartial manner. It does not act as an advocate or
legal representative for either party to a complaint. The complaint information and complaint
handling service is free.

To assist parties to complaints, HREOC has produced a video/DVD titled 'Pathways to
Resolution', which can be ordered online at www.humanrights.gov.au/pathways_to_resolution/

For more information, contact the Commission’s complaints infoline on 1300 656 419, or e-mail
to: complaintsinfo@humanrights.gov.au or log on to the complaints help page at

                                        Return to contents

[2] NPT factor in new inquiry into Australia-India relations

In what might be seen as a prelude to a change in Government policy on selling uranium to India
despite its refusal to become a party to the UN’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the
Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade is to conduct a
major inquiry into Australia's relationship with India.

Committee chairman Senator Alan Ferguson says the inquiry is to review Australia’s relationship
with India as an emerging world power with particular focus on investment opportunities, defence
relationship and the strategic possibilities for both nations resulting from increasing globalisation
and regional imperatives.
He said this week, “This is not the first inquiry into Australia–India relations conducted by this
Committee. However, India’s recent economic growth has transformed it into an emerging world
power. The committee believes that there is great potential for the Australia-India relationship.
This has been recognised by Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard, and Australia’s allies such
as the Untied States.

“Investment opportunities exist in trade and tourism and our defence relationship is one of
growing importance.”

The inquiry follows the announcement by US President Bush that the US would supply nuclear
technology for India’s civilian nuclear program and lobby other countries to help develop India’s
civilian nuclear capacity. Australia has said it is bound by its current policy of not selling uranium
to non-NPT countries. However, the Government has pointed to India’s “impeccable record” in
adhering to the treaty’s principles. In 2004, Australia and India signed a Memorandum of
Understanding on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism.

The Committee wants written submissions until May 31, after which it will conduct a series of
public hearings.

For all other inquiries including terms of reference, contact the Committee Secretary, Margot
Kerley, on (02) 6277 4629 or visit the committee website at

                      [See The nuclear dilemma: China and Iran [3] below]

                                         Return to contents

Reviewing the treaty scrutiny process

The Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties held a seminar on March 31 to
mark its 10th anniversary.

Among the speakers was Dr Palitha Kohona, former Chief, Treaty Section/Office of Legal Affairs,
United Nations on Recent Trends in Treaty Law from the Perspective of the UN Secretary-
General as Depositary and Significant Treaty Events

The seminar was opened by the Chair of the Treaties Committee, Dr Andrew Southcott, who
spoke on the Committee’s first decade in the treaty scrutiny process. The Government
established the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties in 1996, to review proposed treaty actions
before they enter into force.

Other speakers included:
Michael L’Estrange, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who discussed
developments in Free Trade Agreements; Dick Adams MP, foundation committee member,
Devika Hovell, Director, International Law Project, Gilbert & Tobin Centre of Public Law, NSW;
Queensland parliamentary secretary Neil Roberts on Treaty Making: A State Perspective; Petrice
Judge, Executive Director, Office of Federal Affairs, Department of Premier and Cabinet, WA on
The Standing Committee on Treaties as Part of the Treaty Scrutiny Process; Anne Twomey,
Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Sydney on Treaty Reform - What the States
Wanted, What they got and What they want now; Associate Professor Richard Herr
School of Government, University of Tasmania on Some Reflections on the Role of State
Parliaments; Associate Professor Greg Rose; Faculty of Law, University of Wollongong, on
Treaties with Regional Neighbours; Professor Aynsley Kellow, School of Government, University
of Tasmania, on Climate Change Treaties; NZ MP Dianne Yates, Chairperson, NZ Foreign
Affairs Defence and Trade Committee, on Treaty Review in New Zealand

Treaties Committee supports Investment Agreement with Turkey

Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, Andrew Southcott MP, tabled Report 72 on
March 28, which includes a recommendation that Australia enter into an Agreement with Turkey
on the Promotion and Protection of Investments.

In addition, Report 72 outlines the Committee’s review and recommendations that binding treaty
action is taken in relation to three other treaties. These relate to:
• Amendments to the Statute of the Hague Conference on Private International Law;
• Amendments to the Universal Postal Union and; inclusion of
• Annex G: Settlement of Disputes to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic

For more information, call Gillian Gould (Committee Secretary) (02) 6277 4642

                                       Return to contents

The nuclear dilemma: China and Iran
[3] Uranium safeguards with China ‘a sham’ -Greens

The Australian government's “secure safeguards” covering its forthcoming agreement to sell
uranium to China are fatally flawed, according to Australian Greens energy spokesperson
Senator Christine Milne.

Australia and China are expected to sign an agreement covering the supply of uranium to China
when the Prime Minister of China visits Australia next week.

"In December 2005, Madam Fu Ying, China's Ambassador to Australia, told a Melbourne mining
club luncheon that China has insufficient uranium for both its civil and military programs," Senator
Milne said in Canberra. Therefore the Australian government claim that Australian uranium will go
to declared civil facilities only is a sham.

"Whether uranium is used in power stations in lieu of uranium going to nuclear warheads, the
outcome is the same - Australian uranium will support China's nuclear weapons program either
directly or indirectly.

"Senator Nick Minchin's tabled response to a Greens question in Parliament says that Australia's
uranium will be used only at 'declared facilities' subject to China's safeguards agreements with
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). However, 'declared facilities' are only declared at
the discretion of China. The Chinese government can withdraw these facilities from IAEA
oversight at any time simply by stating concerns about national security.

"As if that is not bad enough, the conversion of yellowcake to gas, its enrichment for weapons
grade or civilian reactor grade, and processing into nuclear fuel rods for power or weapons take
place in facilities which are predominately controlled by the military and are not 'declared

For more information, call Office of Senator Christine Milne 02 6277 3063 or 03 6234 4566
e-mail: senator.milne@aph.gov.au
                                        Return to contents
Australia welcomes UN deadline to Iran

Australia has welcomed the 30-day deadline set by the UN Security Council on Iran’s nuclear
program that Iran must comply with the steps set out in IAEA Board of Governors’ resolutions
including re-instating a full suspension on all uranium enrichment activities.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, said, “Despite three years of investigations,
the IAEA has still not been able to conclude that Iran’s nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful
purposes. I am pleased that the Security Council has now reinforced the IAEA’s efforts to
investigate Iran’s nuclear program.

“Australia is extremely concerned about Iran’s nuclear activities. Iran has a record of
concealment over nearly two decades and our concerns are compounded by Iran’s determined
pursuit of uranium enrichment without convincing justification. Uranium enrichment is a key
technology for producing nuclear fuel but also nuclear weapons.

“Iran’s right, as a party to the NPT, to access peaceful nuclear energy is not in question.
Australia supports strongly the rights of those NPT parties who faithfully comply with their non-
proliferation obligations to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy”.

Australia supported the IAEA Board’s February 4 resolution reporting Iran’s non-compliance with
its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty safeguards obligations to the Security Council.

For more information, call the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (02) 6277 7500 e-mail:
A.Downer.MP@aph.gov.au Departmental 02 6261 1555 www.dfat.gov.au

                                        Return to contents

[4] NGOs lobby to change electoral Bill

The Australian Council for International Development is confident that the Government will heed
its lobbying effort to get the government to change sections of its Electoral and Referendum
Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Bill 2005. ACFID Executive Director,
Paul O'Callaghan says certain provisions of the Bill, as drafted, “would impose an onerous
reporting burden on ACFID members and all Australian non-profit agencies. They could also
potentially discourage some donors from contributing.”

Two weeks ago Mr O’Callaghan reported that the senior government representatives on the
relevant Senate Committee had agreed with the main thrust of ACFID’s case, which was
presented on behalf of the 17 member organisations of the National Non-profit Roundtable.

Strong support from the Australian Conservation Foundation and a positive engagement from a
small group of influential Coalition backbenchers had helped change perspectives.

ACFID has said that the Bill reflects a determination by the Government to curb the impact of high
profile advocacy by non-profit organisations with the principal targets being environmental non-
profit agencies. [UNity 449 February 17, 2006]

The Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee has tabled its Report on the
Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Bill 2005.
According to Democrats' Electoral Matters spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray the proposed
changes outlined in the report “can only lead to more secrecy and hidden influence and will place
the integrity of our democracy at risk.”
He said, "The Coalition Government's intention raise the disclosure threshold from $1500 to
$10,000 can only lead to even more secrecy and hidden influence – especially since the multiple
donations loophole means that donations up to $90,000 can be hidden. Moreover, the Coalition's
plans to increase the tax-deductibility of individual donations to an indexed $1500 is offensive, as
the Government is proposing to give political parties a better tax deductibility than it gives to many
community organisations.

Senator Murray said the Democrats' Dissenting Report provided vital accountability

For more information, contact Australian Council for International Development
Ph: (02) 6285 1816 www.acfid.asn.au
Senator Andrew Murray on 02 6277 3709 e-mail: senator.murray@aph.gov.au
Senator Brandis (02) 6277 3547 or (07) 3001 8180 senator.brandis@aph.gov.au
Shadow Special Minister of State Alan Griffin (02) 6277 4374 or (03) 9547 1444

                                        Return to contents

[5] Committee to inquire into ‘electoral awareness’

Federal Parliament’s Joint Committee on Electoral Matters will examine the adequacy of civics
and electoral education in Australia. The inquiry will focus on the quality of education provided to
the young, Indigenous and migrant Australians.

Australian Electoral Commission reports indicate that young and indigenous Australians are more
likely to be under-enrolled, while higher levels of informal voting are often evident among
culturally and linguistically diverse groups. Successive surveys of young people have also
pointed to low levels of “civic literacy”: Australians between the ages of 15 and 35 typically have
limited knowledge of Australia’s political history and political system, and have little interest in
Australian political affairs.

The Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, Peter Lindsay, says, “We
need to find better ways of inspiring and engaging these groups”.

The committee’s terms of reference for the inquiry are very broad and it is seeking submissions
from a diverse range of Australians, including school children, teachers, community leaders,
academics and practitioners. Submissions close on June 2 and will be followed by a series of
public hearings. Details of the inquiry will be advertised nationally on April 9.

For more information: contact the Inquiry Secretary (02) 6277 4453, e-mail jscem@aph.gov.au or
visit the Committee’s webpage at http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/em/

                                        Return to contents

[6] Tsunami aid: questions and answers

Following criticism of the distribution and use of tsunami-related funds, the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, Alexander Downer, and a group of non-government organisations represented by the
Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) held a press conference this week.

Responding to questions, executive director of World Vision, Tim Costello, said “often the public
feel, if you haven’t spent all the money, you really haven’t quite honoured our trust.”
He went on, “We pledged – I think this is true of all the agencies – which we would spend
probably about 30% to 40% in the first year – realising that would be both the emergency
response and transitional housing. And when you hear reports of 10,000 shoddy-built houses, I
don’t think there’s actually 10,000 permanent houses yet built in Banda Aceh.”

Oxfam has been reported as halting work in Aceh because of local corruption. At the press
conference, Andrew Hewett of Oxfam, also responding to questions, said, “Large numbers of
people obviously have been assisted, and just in talking in terms of what our agency, Oxfam, has
done – we’ve assisted over 300,000 people – about 315,000 people.

“The task in Aceh was the greatest challenge that we faced in any of the 12 countries affected by
the tsunami. The extent of the devastation was the greatest destruction of land titling records; the
destruction of housing; physical infrastructure, and the like. It also resulted in the loss of actual
land – land was subsequently submerged. …”

Stressing that Oxfam’s priority had been on livelihoods, water supply and sanitation, he went on,
“I think we’ve been able to make an impact in terms of getting people back to work; in terms of
providing some form of shelter for significant numbers of people, and in terms of some of the
public education and other associated activities.

“We’ve had a particular focus on water supply and sanitation. That’s an expertise that Oxfam
brings into the equation. And particularly in the early stages, that was literally lifesaving. And, to
say it’s getting back to normal; we’re not there. It’s going to take a long time, and in a sense
there’s never going to be normality following such a tragedy and such a trauma; as we had on
December 26, 2004. But, people’s lives have been changed; more people have got back into
work; we’ve been able to assist them with some basic shelter and the like.

On the question of shelter, Oxfam has built 700 permanent houses in Aceh, fully equipped with
water supply and sanitation; built in such a way that they can be extended. Another 1500 will be
built by the end of this year.

Text of the ACFID question and answer session is available from ACFID Ph: (02) 6285 1816
Minister for Foreign Affairs (02) 6277 7500 e-mail: A.Downer.MP@aph.gov.au Departmental 02
6261 1555 www.dfat.gov.au

                                         Return to contents

[7] Cole Commission requests Ministers’ sworn statements

Two ministers have been asked for sworn statements by the Cole Commission of Inquiry into the
UN allegations of the Australian Wheat Board, now AWB Ltd, paying $290 million in kickbacks to
the Saddam Hussein regime.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile, have
been asked for their statements by April 5 on what they knew about the payments. Depending on
what is in the statements, senior counsel assisting the Commission will decide whether the
ministers should be called to answer questions. Both ministers have denied any knowledge of the

Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs Kevin Rudd says that Commissioner Cole’s terms
of reference do not give him “proper powers to make conclusions and findings about whether or
not … Ministers have done their job under Australian law. “
Mr Rudd said, also, that Mr Downer had a moral duty to take every reasonable measure to
ensure that AWB was not violating UN sanctions. He also had formal legal obligations under
Australian domestic and international law to enforce UN sanctions against Iraq. “Instead he told
AWB they didn’t have to worry about where the money went after they handed it over to
Saddam’s front company,” Mr Rudd said. “Mr Downer’s advice to AWB demonstrates that he had
become AWB’s man-in-the-government - arguing AWB’s case to the [UN’s] Volcker Inquiry,
providing tactical advice to AWB for its dealings with the Volcker Inquiry and acting with reckless
disregard to his own obligations under Australia law.”

For more information
Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (02) 6277 7500 e-mail: A.Downer.MP@aph.gov.au
website: www.dfat.gov.au Departmental 02 6261 1555
Kevin Rudd (02) 6277 4941 e-mail: Kevin.Rudd.MP@aph.gov.au
Prime Minister’s office (02) 6277 7700 website: www.pm.gov.au

Cole Inquiry’s full terms of reference, media releases, hearings, transcripts of evidence, exhibits,
parties, submissions, practice notes, statements, legal opinions, the Commissioner, counsel,
independent inquiry and other relevant material, go to:
Other inquiries
Comprehensive Report of the Special Adviser to the DCI on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction,
related to the UN’s Oil-for-Food Program. Access the September 30, 2004 report at:

The Independent Inquiry into the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program (IIC) was established by
the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, under the chairmanship of Paul Volker, following
allegations of corruption in the administration of the program involving UN personnel, businesses,
and some governments.
The Volker Committee has published several reports on:
Manipulation of the Oil-for-Food Program, on October 27, 2005;
Management of the Oil-for-Food Program, on September 7, 2005;
Third Interim Report, on August 8, 2005.
Final Report, on October 27, 2005.
These can be accessed at: www.iic-offp.org

                                       Return to contents

[8] Government opposes West Papua motion

The Federal Government opposed a motion in the Senate on March 29 encouraging Indonesian
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to continue to push forward his reform agenda for West
Papua, as he has done in Aceh, and implement special autonomy for West Papua.

The motion, moved by Democrats' Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Senator Natasha Stott
Despoja and supported by the ALP and the Greens, called for an end to ongoing human rights
abuses in West Papua.

The motion also called for the Senate to:
   • Acknowledge the provision of Temporary Protection Visas by the Department of
       Immigration to the West Papuan asylum seekers who arrived in Australia in January
   • Recognise that a commitment to the formal process of special autonomy for the province
       of Papua, that began in 2001, is integral to the peaceful solution of the conflict in Papua
       and call on the Indonesian Government to fully implement the Special Autonomy Law;
      •   Recognise that the partitioning of Papua into the provinces of West Irian Jaya and Papua
          is disputed and has been contested by Papuan political and community leaders.

The executive director of the Australian Council for International Development, Paul
O'Callaghan, said this week, “Regrettably, some middle ranking Indonesian military officials have
sought to deflect attention from the recent pattern of human rights violations by criticising
Australian NGOs for involvement with local people. This is reminiscent of Indonesian military
responses in East Timor in the late 1990s.”

Noting that the Australian Government’s decision to grant temporary entry visas to 42 West-
Papuan asylum seekers has focused sharper international attention on the human rights situation
in West Papua, he said, “The decision also generated significant tension between the Indonesian
and Australian Governments because the Indonesian Government sees this issue principally as
one of national sovereignty.

“We are hopeful that the Australian visa decision will continue to draw international attention to
this issue and, over coming months, may lead to the Indonesian President taking a more active
political role in curbing military excesses in West Papua. …”

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, who has been blacklisted from travel to the country by Indonesia,
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Senate, “Does the
government accept the 1969 Act of Free Choice as the legitimate expression of the will of the
West Papuan people, and will the government support calls for the United Nations Secretary-
General to review the status of the Act of Free Choice?”

Representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Senate, Senator Helen Coonan, said the
attitude the government has in respect of West Papua is one which strongly supports Indonesia's
territorial integrity, including its sovereignty over Papua, and this government does not support
separatism. We do say that full and effective implementation of special autonomy is, in the
government's view, the best way of meeting the considerable needs of the local community…”

She said Australia was providing “something practical for West Papuans: a $3.7 million
development program in Papua that focuses on health, HIV-AIDS, education and public
expenditure. …

“In respect of the whole situation in West Papua, we continue to urge the Indonesian government
to investigate local conditions and alleged human rights violations and to ensure that the human
rights of all citizens in West Papua are respected. The important issue is that this government is
concerned that local conditions in West Papua are improved for the local populous. We are
concerned to ensure that Indonesian territorial integrity is respected, and that is the attitude we
will continue to take in respect of West Papua. …

“We expect all international obligations to be observed in respect of West Papua. I think that all
Australians are concerned about these kinds of matters but we see them in the context of the fact
that we do respect Indonesian sovereignty. …”


A statement by ChilOut - Children Out of Detention says it welcomes the news that the West
Papuan asylum seekers, including 7 children, who were being held in immigration detention on
Christmas Island, have been granted Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs). We acknowledge the
government for doing the right thing in granting protection to the West Papuans. Australia’s
relationship with Indonesia has barely recovered from our actions in supporting East Timor's
move to independence. It is wonderful that we have not bowed to pressure, but have stood up for
what is right.
“While we continue to campaign for permanent protection for all recognised refugees and
question why the West Papuan party was taken to Christmas Island at all, the asylum system has
largely been allowed to function as it was intended. The group can now get on, in the short term,
with their lives in safety. They do not have to face the trauma of years of indefinite detention, a
fate that so many other recent arrivals with asylum claims have suffered, including a West
Timorese family who remain on Christmas Island.”

For more information, contact:
The Minister for Immigration, Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone
ph: (02) 6277 7860 Email the Minister for Immigration
Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (02) 6277 7500 e-mail: A.Downer.MP@aph.gov.au
website: www.dfat.gov.au Departmental 02 6261 1555
Senator Kerry Nettle (02) 6277 3501 or 02 9690 2038 E-mail: senator.nettle@aph.gov.au website
ChilOut - Children Out of Detention www.chilout.org Email: friends@chilout.org

                                        Return to contents

[9] Human rights: farewell and welcome

On March 27, at 5.30pm Geneva time (2.30am Australian EST), the United Nations Commission
on Human Rights closed its historic final session. After a fraction over 60 years in operation, the
closure of the CHR was to a packed assembly hall at the Palais des Nations, and with mixed
feelings from the government and non-government delegates present.

Howard Glenn of Rights Australia reports from Geneva, “It fell to the sole NGO speaker –
much to my pride an old friend and fellow Australian Chris Sidoti – to speak of the continued
neglect of governments of the world of the human rights of many, and while refusing to speak for
all NGOs, read a statement endorsed by 265, including Rights Australia – which outlined our
hopes for the new Human Rights Council, to sustained applause. To be fair, the new body will
have a solid base to build on: the Commission on Human Rights is not given enough credit for its
past work. …”
Read Howard Glenn’s full report at: http://www.rightsaustralia.org.au

                                        Return to contents

[10] Academic killed in Baghdad

An Iraqi citizen who was also an Australian permanent resident, Professor Kays Duma [Juma in
some reports], 72, was shot dead in Baghdad this week by a security guard employed by Unity
Resources Group, a firm of security consultants. It is alleged the professor in agriculture was shot
when his vehicle failed to stop at a check point.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, said his understanding was that “he
endeavoured to go through a checkpoint without stopping and the security officer opened fire on
the vehicle and he was killed… but we’re still trying to investigate them further.”

Investigations are the primary responsibility of the police in Iraq but the Australian Embassy is
monitoring the situation.

For more information, call the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (02) 6277 7500 e-mail:
A.Downer.MP@aph.gov.au website: www.dfat.gov.au Departmental 02 6261 1555

                                        Return to contents
[11] Human Rights and the ‘long war’

Keith Suter, chair of the NSW branch of the International Commission of Jurists, has commented
on Human Rights And The 'Long War', in which he says the Bush Administration has recently
taken to referring to the “War on Terrorism” as the “Long War”.

“In other words, no matter what happens to immediate issues like Osama bin Laden and his
group, the battle has now become so extensive that we shall still speak about terrorism for years
to come,” he says.

He goes on, “The Cold War — the previous ‘long war’ — ran for 45 years. What will our civil
liberties be like after 45 years of anti-terrorist legislation?

“The Eminent Jurists Panel has been created by the Geneva-based International Commission of
Jurists to examine the global impact of the fight against terrorism on human rights and
humanitarian law. A total of eight jurists have been appointed, drawn from a cross-section of the
world’s main legal systems. The project was created by the International Commission of Jurists
but it is not controlled by it. …

“The average Australian is probably unaware of just how many new laws have been introduced.
Most of the legislation will stay around indefinitely. Therefore, even if we have confidence in the
integrity of the current collection of politicians and law enforcement officials, how do we know that
their successors will be equally trustworthy? There is always the risk of an abuse of power.
The panel members, for example, heard detailed objections to the regime of ‘control orders’
introduced by amendments to the Criminal Code Act that could impose a wide range of
restrictions on a person suspected of involvement in terrorism but not criminally charged and
tried. …”

For text and more information, e-mail: kdsuter@wesleymission.org.au

                                         Return to contents

[12] Privacy undermined by Telecommunications Bill

The Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill will erode privacy rights and
professional privilege, according to the Australian Democrats’ Attorney-General’s and Privacy
spokesperson Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.
"While the bill contains some necessary updates to the regulation of telecommunications
interception law, aspects of this bill represent an alarming invasion into the privacy of Australians.
Democrats are particularly concerned about the introduction of B-party warrants, which will allow
the conversations and e-mails of innocent people to be monitored – without their knowledge.

"The bill does not protect professional privilege, eroding the ability of lawyers, medical officers,
members of parliament and religious leaders to offer their services in confidence.

"It will also lower the threshold at which communication can be monitored, from the existing
seven year punishment for phone taps to three years for e-mail, voicemail, and SMS. The idea
that an email, voicemail message or SMS is considered less private than a phone conversation is

Senator Stott Despoja says the Government's claim that if innocent people are not informed
about the monitoring of their communications, they cannot be harmed by that monitoring, is
During debate in the committee stage of the Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill
Senator Ellison claimed that "If a person never knows that they have been discriminated against
– and this is across the board – they cannot bring the action.

"Commonwealth and State bodies like the ATO, ASIC and Customs will now be able to access all
e-mails, voicemail messages and SMS messages that a person has kept, and they may never
know that their messages have been read or listened to. These are unprecedented powers. We
are losing our civil liberties in a manner which will only perpetuate the problems we are trying to
prevent," she said.

Senator Joe Ludwig, Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs says the Government has
ignored all 27 recommendations made by the all-party Senate Legal and Constitutional

Greens Leader Bob Brown said, "Now nobody's privacy is safe from invasion. Government
agencies can now snoop on all innocent citizen's phone calls, e-mails and private
communications, even if they are not suspected of a crime,"

For more information:
Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (02) 6277 3200 or (08) 8232 7595
e-mail: senator.stottdespoja@aph.gov.au
Senator Bob Brown Ph 03 6234 1633 or (02) 6277 3170 E-mail:
Senator.Bob.Brown@aph.gov.au or website: www.bobbrown.org.au

                                        Return to contents

[13] Solon seeks care for life

Vivian Alvarez Solon’s lawyers have argued that the wrongly deported woman is owed a lifetime
of care - probably costing taxpayers millions of dollars - by a system that contributed to physical
trauma that will never be healed, according to the Sydney Morning Herald’s, Robert Wainwright,
on March 27.

A five-day private arbitration hearing before the former High Court judge Sir Anthony Mason will
decide the matter. Former Federal Court judge Marcus Einfield, QC, an international jurist and
human rights advocate, represented Ms Solon against the Commonwealth advocate, the former
federal attorney-general Tom Hughes, QC.

At the heart of the case will be the extent and treatment of injuries sustained in a road accident
weeks before she was deported from Queensland and left in a wheelchair at Manila airport.

Ms Solon, who now lives under 24-hour care in a Sydney apartment, has been diagnosed with
tetraparesis, which means all of her limbs and other identified bodily functions are partially
paralysed. She is said to be able to walk only a few metres at a time.


                                        Return to contents

[14] ACT v Commonwealth over gay marriage

New civil union laws proposed by the ACT government have drawn threats from the Federal
Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, to over-rule any law that gives same sex couples equal
standing to married couples. ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope accuses the federal government
of discriminating against homosexual couples.
Civil Liberties Australia president Dr Kris Klugman says, "The man who has failed for four years
to get David Hicks out of Guantanamo Bay should have much more to do than try to regulate
individual people's choice of their partner.”

The ACT's Civil Union Bill, which formally recognises relationships between same sex couples,
has been drawn up after extensive community consultation and has widespread support in the
ACT. Civil unions are not marriage, but afford the partners equal rights, Dr Klugman said.

The Federal Government has constitutional responsibility for marriage laws but not for the
appointment of marriage celebrants. The ACT intends to use such celebrants to conduct same-
sex marriages. However, the Commonwealth can over-rule territory legislation.

Shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon says the Opposition objects to the Federal Government
over-riding territories when it cannot do the same with the states.

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle has called upon all parties in the Federal Parliament to oppose any
legislation that undermines the ACT's new laws allowing civil unions for same sex couples.

For more information, call:
Dr Kristine Klugman, CLA (ACT) Ph 02 6288 6137 E-mail: rowlings@netspeed.com.au
Nicola Roxon (02) 6277 2039 or (03) 9687 7355 e-mail: Nicola.Roxon.MP@aph.gov.au
ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope e-mail: stanhope@act.gov.au

                                        Return to contents

[15] Australia part of UN poll monitors in Solomon Islands

Australia will send a 10-member observer delegation to help monitor the Solomon Islands
national election to be held on April 5. It will be led by Senator Marise Payne, and will comprise
MPs Bob Sercombe and Michael Ferguson, former Queensland Electoral Commissioner, Bob
Longland, and six officials from the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence and

The election is the first for the Solomon Islanders since the arrival of the Australian-led Regional
Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2003 and the restoration of law and order.

An integral part of the RAMSI mission is an $A1.77 million Civic Education program. Australia is
also providing $1.6 million in assistance to the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission to help
them conduct a free and fair election.

The Australian observer delegation will join other international observer teams from New Zealand,
Japan, the USA, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. The
UN Electoral Assistance Division will coordinate the consolidated international observer effort.

For more information, call the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (02) 6277 7500 e-mail:
A.Downer.MP@aph.gov.au website: www.dfat.gov.au Departmental 02 6261 1555

                                        Return to contents
[16] Social Justice and the Native Title Reports launched

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma launched the
annual Social Justice Report and the Native Title Report on March 31.

The Social Justice Report 2005 considers the progress in achieving improvements in the health
status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and sets out a human rights framework for
achieving health equality within a generation. The Report also examines the implementation of
the new arrangements for Indigenous affairs in a post-ATSIC environment.

The Native Title Report 2005 focuses on the issues and potential impacts of the Australian
Government’s proposal to encourage private ownership and leases of communal land under
Indigenous title.

For more information, contact HREOC www.humanrights.gov.au/ or call (02) 9284 9880

                                        Return to contents

[17] Australian Baha’is on persecution in Iran

Evidence emerged at the United Nations recently, that the Iranian Government has instructed
the army, intelligence and police agencies to identify Baha’is and monitor their activities. In a
media release, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Asma
Jahangir, said she was highly concerned about these developments.

Ms Jahangir referred to a confidential letter sent by the Chairman of the Command Headquarters
of the Armed Forces in Iran to a number of governmental agencies on October 29, 2005. “The
letter”, she said, “which is addressed to the Ministry of Information, the Revolutionary Guard and
the Police Force, states that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, had instructed the
Command Headquarters to identify persons who adhere to the Baha’i faith and monitor their
activities. The letter goes on to request the recipients to, in a highly confidential manner, collect
any and all information about members of the Baha’i faith.”

“The Australian Baha’i Community is alarmed at this news,” said Mr John Walker, the secretary of
the national governing body, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia. “It
follows escalating attacks on the Baha’is in government-sanctioned media and is ominously
reminiscent of the early 1980s when many Baha’is in Iran were imprisoned, tortured and
executed. The rise in influence in Iranian governmental circles of the Hojjatieh Society, an
organisation committed to the destruction of the Baha’i Faith, only heightens our fears for the
Baha’is in Iran. We are very concerned that this may be the precursor to renewed violence and
persecution against Baha’is.”

The Baha’i Faith is the youngest of the world’s independent religions and has been present in
Australia since 1920. Baha’is form the largest non-Islamic religious minority in Iran, with over
300,000 members.

For more information:
Yvonne Perkins, Australian Baha'i Community Public Information Officer: (02) 9998 9222
Yvonne Perkins. E-mail: yvonne.perkins@bnc.bahai.org.au website: www.bahai.org.au

                                        Return to contents
[18] New human rights treaty website

A new trilingual search engine providing an easier, quicker and more systematic access to human
rights and humanitarian law has just been launched at www.whatconvention.org

With over 250 international conventions analysed article by article, it provides many useful
functions, with among others, the possibility to access:
    • A country's obligations
    • Direct access to the key articles
    • Reservations made by the country
    • Customary law when relevant
    • Status of ratifications
    • User friendly interface

                                        Return to contents

[19] Great Barrier Reef ‘in danger’ bid

Australian Greens climate change spokesperson Senator Christine Milne says the federal
government is trying to hide from global scrutiny of climate damage to the World Heritage-listed
Great Barrier Reef,

"By refusing to back a motion calling for the government to support the listing of the Great Barrier
Reef as World Heritage 'in danger', the government signalled that it will not support the 'in danger'
listing at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Paris later this year," Senator Milne said in

"The Howard government has refused to take decisive action on climate change and the Great
Barrier Reef is suffering accordingly, and now the government wants to hide from the scrutiny that
such action has attracted.

Senator Milne's motion was defeated in the Senate 34 votes to 29 late today. The text appears

For more information, call Senator Milne on 02 6277 3063 or 03 6234 4566
e-mail: senator.milne@aph.gov.au

                                        Return to contents

[20] AusAID-NGO emergency store

AusAID has proposed opening a communal NGO store (open to all AusAID accredited NGOs),
which will be available to keep non-food items for emergency relief. While AusAID will cover the
management cost of the warehouse, the specifics of the operation of the warehouse need to be
developed and agreed to by NGOs.

Interested emergency relief agencies interested in using the store, should discuss their interest
with Carly Sheehan, of the Australian Council for International Development on 02 6281 9218,

Australian CEO of Development Gateway Foundation

Mark Fleeton has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Development Gateway
Foundation, an independent spin-off of the World Bank. The Development Gateway’s mission is
to leverage the Internet for the benefit of people in developing countries, providing online
solutions to strengthen good governance, improve the effectiveness of international aid and
support local and global knowledge-sharing initiatives.

Mr. Fleeton has been acting as Interim CEO of the Development Gateway since January 2.
Before joining the Development Gateway, he was an Assistant Director General at AusAID where
he was responsible for program quality, knowledge management systems and the coordination of
programs focused on information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development.

The Development Gateway Foundation puts the Internet to work for the benefit of people in
developing countries. It provides innovative, web-based solutions for effective aid and e-
government - increasing access to critical information, building local capacity and bringing
partners together for positive change. The Development Gateway is a non-profit organisation with
activities in 60 countries.

For more information visit www.developmentgateway.org or call Allison Scuriatti +1.202.572.9232
E-mail: ascuriatti@dgfoundation.org

                                       Return to contents

[21] Inquiry into Government’s green credentials

The first hearing of an inquiry by the House of Representatives Environment Committee into the
development of a national sustainability charter was held in Parliament House, Canberra on
March 30.

Committee Chair Dr Mal Washer said that the inquiry will provide the federal government with
information on how to proceed with the development of a national sustainability charter. The
Committee will build on the work already done by some of the states and in some other
countries. It will take information from these sources and incorporate it in a report that will
recommend national objectives to the federal government.

In September 2005, the Committee tabled the Sustainable Cities report, which called for the
development of a Sustainability Charter based on measurable outcomes, over a certain period,
with intermediate milestones.

Further information about the inquiry and the committee’s public hearing, including the terms of
reference, a discussion paper and advice on making submissions, can be found at:
or obtained by phoning the Committee secretariat on (02) 6277 4580 or e-mailing to:

                                       Return to contents

[22] WFUNA Secretary-General

Australian Pera Wells has been elected to act in the position of Secretary-General of the World
Federation of United Nations Associations, with full powers, until the Plenary Assembly in
November to be held in Argentina.

                                       Return to contents
[23] UN and UNAA contacts

To access major United Nations websites, go to:
    • United Nations
    • Secretary-General
    • UN News Centre
    • Key UN Bodies, Agencies, Funds and Programs

If you want more information about the United Nations Association of Australia in your state or if
you want to join UNAA, access www.unaa.org.au or contact:
UNAA ACT unaaact@cyberone.com.au                ph 02 6247 4499
UNAA NSW office@unaansw.org.au                  ph 02 9212 0998
UNAA Qld unaabalmain@optusnet.com.au ph/Fax 07 3254 1096
UNAA SA unaasa@picknowl.com.au                  ph 08 8226 4141
UNAA Tas. secretary@UNAATasmania.org ph 03 6229 4269 www.UNAATasmania.org
UNAA Vic info@unaavictoria.org.au Ph: (03) 9670 7878 Website: www.unaavictoria.org.au
UNAA WA unaawa@tpg.com.au                       ph 08 9221 9455 www.unaa-wa.org.au

As a regular reader of UNity, please make sure you notify us if you change your e-mail address
by sending your new e-address to imathews@ozemail.com.au

 Items [24] Diary Dates [25] International Years [26] Job vacancies [27] Links to courses,
     conferences and reports are in the Supplement to UNity transmitted separately

                                       Return to contents

To top