Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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The Vengeful State: How Democratic Governments Respond to National Security Leaks

By Peter Grabosky, RegNet, ANU

Image: WikiLeaks

Image: WikiLeaks

States usually respond harshly when individuals publicly disclose national security information without authorisation. I have written elsewhere about the vengeance wreaked by the French State in the Dreyfus Affair; by the British Executive in response to Clive Ponting’s disclosure of information about the sinking of the Argentine cruiser the General Belgrano during the Falklands war; by the Israeli Government in response to Morechai Vanunu’s disclosure of state nuclear secrets; and by the US Administration in the case of the Pentagon papers.[1]

More recently, the leaking of classified information by Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden again highlighted the tension between state secrecy in purported defence of national security and the public’s right to know about the operations of government and public authorities. Continue Reading →


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Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

Coming Home by Beverley Grant, 2007. Image: Australian Human Rights Commission

Coming Home by Beverley Grant, 2007. Image: Australian Human Rights Commission

Abuse of Aboriginal children in detention does not happen in a vacuum, or without the collusion of the society that builds and runs ‘juvenile justice’ centres. Mike Seccombe has written an excellent article in The Saturday Paper explaining how successive Northern Territory governments have channelled federal funding into predominantly white electorates and away from Aboriginal communities.

Seccombe draws on analysis by John Taylor, of ANU’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research. He also quotes Jon Altman, of RegNet and the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, who emphasises the money spent on ‘locking people up rather than investing in their health, education and development’.

John Braithwaite has written about what changes we might expect from the Royal Commission into Don Dale Detention Centre, and about alternative approaches to justice, on his War ∙ Crime ∙ Regulation blog. In another post for John’s blog, Valerie Braithwaite highlights the contributions of people like Sharynne Hamilton, who completed an Indigenous internship with RegNet and is now researching Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders among children in the criminal justice system in Western Australia.

Sharynne believes that institutionalised racism affects Aboriginal children from the start of their lives, but that empowering Aboriginal communities would have a hugely positive impact:

I would love to see big programs on country. The kids love their families, their communities, they love fishing swimming hunting – often with an older person in the community like grandad. They are excellent at sport, excellent at art, and love music. But none of this is nurtured. And if they are going to be healed it has to be – and could be – easily!

To highlight the plight of Aboriginal children involved with the justice system beyond the Northern Territory, Sharynne has passed on this short video.