Preserving rights

Roy Drew, Mullumbimby

The visit of human rights advocate Gillian Triggs has sparked interest and concern for the level of human rights we enjoy in this country.

Ms Triggs discussed the inadequacies and shortcomings of the Australian Constitution suggesting a charter expanding our rights could be drawn up in our area as an inspiration towards a national campaign.

A group of locals are now investigating the possibility of developing a ‘Mullum’ Charter in homage to the Magna Carta of 800 years ago.

Even though The Magna Carta was drawn up in mediaeval England to challenge the power of the monarchy, it may well be more progressive than the Australian Constitution is today.

The idea has me wondering about the rights of Australian citizen and journalist Julian Assange. He’s been confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for six years through fear of arrest and extradition to the USA that could lead to treatment similar to Chelsea Manning or worse.

Journalist Peter Greste’s  release from incarceration in an Egyptian jail for doing nothing but his job was welcomed.

If the Australian government were able to repatriate David Hicks and Mamoud Habib from the horrors of Guantanamo Bay, why are they unable or unwilling to facilitate Assange’s departure from the embassy?

To quote David Hicks’s lawyer Michael Mori, ‘It’s disheartening that federal minsters won’t fight for an Australian citizen to have the same rights as an American,’ following the signing of the Fremantle Declaration.

This declaration urged judicial fairness to be applied in David Hicks’s case as part of the protection of legal rights of Australians at home and abroad.

It was signed in 2006 by attorney generals of the states and territories. The federal attorney-gGeneral at the time, Philip Ruddock, refused to attend.

Why the cruel and inhumane treatment of Chelsea Manning and the forced exile of Edward Snowden? Manning helped expose the indiscriminate nature of the American war machine while Snowden and Assange have exposed the surveillance on us all.

We are often told that the Australian government guards the interests of Australian citizens everywhere regardless of what they may have done.

In the interests of journalism, freedom of the press, freedom of speech and our right to know, we must demand that the government prove the truth of that claim by bringing citizen Julian Assange home.

One response to “Preserving rights”

  1. George Huwell says:

    The problem is that governments have taken rights away from citizens and given them to un-elected, unrepresentative quangos like the AHRC.

    Gillian Triggs is part of the problem. Expanding the state into our private lives always results in a loss of freedom, not ‘protection’ of freedom. All power should be in the hands of democratically elected Parliaments, not unaccountable bureaucracies with their own agenda.

    ‘Freedom of speech’ should be explicitly written into our Constitution, not implicit, as that is the fundamental freedom on which all other freedoms hang, and people like Gillian Triggs don’t have much respect for it.

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