Actor Matt Dillon lends his voice to Rohingya refugees [VIDEO - BBC - 15/6/15]:
A migrant crisis has been sparked in Asia by Rohingya Muslims trying to flee persecution in Myanmar.
In the first quarter of 2015, refugee agencies estimate that some 25,000 people have attempted to cross the Bay of Bengal - often on makeshift vessels.
In early June, American actor Matt Dillon travelled to Rakhine, one of Myanmar's poorest states to draw attention to the conditions there.
He and Refugees International President Michel Gabaudan sat down with the BBC's Laura Trevelyan to discuss the ongoing crisis.
Boat captain received money from Australian authorities, refugees tell UNHCR
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: .. the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has provided 7.30 with further detail about the allegations of payments for boat turn-backs, based on an interview with a group of asylum seekers.
The UNHCR's Indonesia representative, Thomas Vargas, joined me from Jakarta earlier.
Mr Vargas, can you confirm for us if the UNHCR interviewed asylum seekers from the boat that was rescued by the Indonesian navy on May the 31st?
THOMAS VARGAS, INDONESIA REPRESENTATIVE. UNHCR: Yes, we have interviewed the group.
LEIGH SALES: Who conducted the interviews with them?
THOMAS VARGAS: One of our staff members.
LEIGH SALES: Did they interview everyone on the boat individually or as a group?
THOMAS VARGAS: We interviewed the group as a whole.
LEIGH SALES: What did they tell you about their experience when the boat was intercepted?
THOMAS VARGAS: Well, they indicated that they had been with the Australian authorities for several days; that the Australian authorities took the boat crew for several hours and spoke with them; and when at one point they saw the boat captain receive a thick envelope and return back to two boats that were then turned away to the open sea.
And several days later, they arrived in Indonesia.
LEIGH SALES: Did they actually witness that occurring or were they relying on hearsay?
THOMAS VARGAS: We were told that it was witnessed by them directly.
LEIGH SALES: Were the asylum seekers able to provide any information about who the Australian personnel were who intercepted them: for example, Navy or Customs?
THOMAS VARGAS: They identified boats as being Customs boats and Navy boats.
LEIGH SALES: What is the UNHCR's position on people smugglers being paid to turn around boats?
THOMAS VARGAS: Well, we certainly do not condone or urge governments to take this type of approach. We would like to see governments to allow boats in this type of situation to disembark and to bring them to safety. And we certainly would advocate for states to do that and the last thing we would like - we would urge - is for states to turn boats away into the open sea.
We've seen over the last several weeks what can happen at the hands of these smugglers who have subjected boat passengers to violence, to sexual exploitation, even to starvation. And the last thing we would like to see is for boats to be turned away; to potentially be subjected to that kind of treatment in the open seas.
LEIGH SALES: If such payments were made: in your view, what would be the effect on the people smuggling trade?
THOMAS VARGAS: Well, obviously that could encourage more of this activity.
It's clear that these types of approaches will not work. One state alone cannot deal with this situation. It's a regional problem and it sends the wrong message as states are gathering around the table to try to solve this issue.
We'd like to see a comprehensive regional approach where states agree, in the spirit of responsibility sharing, to all come together to meet the needs of these people who are desperately searching for safety.
LEIGH SALES: To your knowledge, are such payments illegal under international law?
THOMAS VARGAS: Well, it's certainly, as I said, against the tradition of rescue at sea; against the tradition and the conventions on rescue at sea and at the law of the sea, as well as the Refugee Convention.
Whenever there are people in need and distress at sea, they should be rescued and they should be brought to safe land first and foremost and then their needs addressed as are necessary.
LEIGH SALES: Thomas Vargas, thanks very much for your time.
THOMAS VARGAS: Thank you, Leigh. Thank you for having me.
Charges dropped in Queensland extortion case after witness alleges police harassment
Nine MSN [16/6/15]:
Three men charged over an alleged bikie extortion ring have walked free from a Brisbane court after a witness retracted his statement.
And more men charged with involvement in the alleged Bandidos racket could do the same on Wednesday after their lawyer flagged a bid to have their charges dropped.
A relieved trio of Benjamin Joseph Thornton, Bosko Cuic and Ruben Andrijevic left the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Tuesday after magistrate Anne Thacker dismissed their assault and extortion charges after a defence application they had no case to answer.
A fourth man, Jarrod Brown, whose charges were also dismissed, remains in custody on an unrelated matter.
It comes after the man alleged to have been their victim told the court his police statement wasn't true. Witness Rosario Giuffrida retracted police statements he made in December 2013 and March 2014 that he was threatened and extorted.
Called to the witness box on Tuesday, he told the court the statements weren't true and agreed under cross-examination police harassed him into making the formal complaint.
"So you were never threatened or extorted at any time?" asked defence barrister Damien Gates.
"Yeah no," Mr Giuffrida replied.
"So, you're withdrawing those statements, it's not true what's contained in those statements?"
"Yeah," the witness said.
Two other witnesses testified on Monday that they were threatened with criminal charges and jail if they didn't provide statements.
It also emerged on Tuesday another witness, Rhys Brennan, only made a formal complaint after he was raided and charged with steroid trafficking, with suggestions he was pressured into coming forward.
Two detectives from Queensland's organised crime task force denied they bribed or put pressure on any alleged victim in relation to the extortion investigation, which was codenamed Operation Lima Corona.
"There was never any benefits or detriments given to Rhys Brennan or any other complainants with regards to providing statements in this matter," Detective Senior Constable Daniel Barry said in evidence.
Six former Bandidos members or associates are still facing committal hearings in relation to the alleged extortion ring cracked by police last year.
They include former Brisbane Centro chapter president George Bejat and his sergeant-at-arms Zivko Stojakovic, who are expected to apply on Wednesday to have charges struck out.
Taskforce Maxima, State Crime Command investigators and police from the Mackay and Gold Coast Districts have arrested and charged 30 people including members of the Rebels and Black Uhlans Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCG) with drug related offences following Operations Variety One and Variety Two. ... [QPS Media - 16/6/15]
Earlier today members of Taskforce Maxima executed search warrants at the Molendinar business and Biggera Waters home of a patched member of the Mongols Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMCG).
A 26-year-old Gold Coast man has been charged with possessing dangerous drugs, possessing the proceeds of crime and possessing steroids. ... [QPS Media - 15/6/15]
Kangaroo with joey, saved from arrow attack
Sunshine Coast Daily [16/6/15]:
A devastating act of animal cruelty has resulted in a happy ending for both mother kangaroo and a surprise joey.
A kangaroo shot in the head with an arrow has been re-released back into the wild after surgery at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
The kangaroo was finally darted by RSPCA inspectors this morning after living for four days with an arrow wedged through its head.
It has been bouncing through the bush area along the Toorbul foreshore near Caboolture.
The eastern grey roo was taken to Australia Zoo for treatment.
This morning RSPCA Qld's Chief Inspector Daniel Young successfully managed to hit it with a tranquiliser dart.
"It was incredibly wary and elusive which I guess isn't surprising," said Chief Inspector Young. "In most cases like this the animal dies a slow painful death but it appears that the arrow missed the brain and eye by millimetres."
The kangaroo was treated at Australia Zoo where the arrow was removed and the wound cleaned.
A zoo spokeswoman said the roo and her joey were released back into the wild at Toorbul as soon as surgery was over due to the high stress and potential for death for a wild kangaroo in captivity situations due to myopathy.
RSPCA will continue to investigate the sickening case of animal cruelty and ask anyone who saw anything to phone 1300 852 188.
Koala and joey hit by car doing well after surgery at Australia Zoo [Sunshine Coast Daily - 16/6/15]
Coroner should find alleged boyfriend killed missing teenager, inquest told
... The journalist reporting
all people in grief
like ghouls at the mime show
devils on the scene
parents still in mourning
get prodded on site
about how bad they are feeling
how will they ever survive? ...
'Flanelette Border', Backsliders 
The coroner investigating the disappearance of north Queensland teenager Rachel Antonio has been asked to consider that her alleged boyfriend killed her.
The 16-year-old went missing from Queens Beach in Bowen, south of Townsville, on Anzac Day in 1998.
Today, counsel assisting the inquest John Aberdeen said the coroner should find that Rachel died at the hands of her alleged boyfriend, Robert Hytch.
Mr Hytch has repeatedly denied having a sexual relationship with the teen, who was 10 years his junior, or having any involvement in her disappearance.
Hytch denied the allegations when giving evidence yesterday.
He was initially found guilty of manslaughter in 1999 and served nine months of his sentence but was acquitted at a retrial in 2001.
Today, Mr Aberdeen said it was most likely Rachel was dead.
"If Rachel is alive ... then in 17 years she hasn't made any contact with her family, her extended family, any of her friends, accessed any Commonwealth benefits or support schemes. Her bank accounts have not been used," he said.
"A police investigation was started immediately and is effectively still underway. A running sheet was started at the time and it continues today, 17 years later."
Outside court, Rachel's father, Ian, lashed out at journalists for the second day on his way to the inquest.
He repeatedly punched a photographer in the head outside the Bowen courthouse.
It was the third attack by Mr Antonio on media in two days.
Detectives from the Gold Coast District Child Protection and Investigation Unit arrested a man overnight with attempted indecent treatment of a child.
It will be alleged the man attended the Gold Coast home of a 13 year-old-boy to engage in a sexual act after communicating with the youth on a Dating App.
The 36-year-old man from Upper Coomera is due to face the Southport Magistrates Court on June 29. ... [QPS Media - 16/6/15]
Police appeal for witnesses in relation to the Ravenshoe crash
QPS Media [16/6/15]:
Cairns Police are continuing investigations into the single vehicle traffic crash that resulted in an explosion at a Ravenshoe café last Tuesday.
Investigators would like to speak with a number of witnesses who appear in video footage of the incident outside the front of the café immediately before the explosion.
Police also wish to speak with anyone who may have interacted with the driver, or have knowledge of the movements of the vehicle, described as a white 2004 model Toyota Landcruiser utility fitted with a dog cage, on the morning prior to the event.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Brisbane Times [16/6/15]:
Bob Katter has called the Ravenshoe tragedy the "worst burns disaster in Queensland's history" outside mining, raising the question of whether large gas canisters should be buried in the ground to prevent it happening again.
Mr Katter visited the grieving community in Queensland's far north on the weekend and said he believed that almost everyone in the small community of about 1000 people had been impacted.
Two people died and another 18 remain seriously or critically ill after an out-of-control utility ploughed into the Serves You Right Café a week ago. The impact caused a large gas canister to explode, trapping those inside and in the near by vicinity.
Mr Katter said he was looking for a way to prevent the tragedy from repeating.
"When I visited on Saturday people suggested that the bigger gas bottles of this type should be buried in the ground," he said.
"We will consult with gas companies to attempt to prevent similar disasters occurring in future.
"For the moment, we ask people to remember the victims in their prayers."
Charity group Givit has been asked to co-ordinate the response. To contribute, go to givit.org.au
Five remain in hospital after Cairns crash [Yahoo – 16/6/15]:
Five people remain in hospital after a tourist train and a bus collided at a level crossing in Cairns.
Police say it appears the bus failed to give way to the Kuranda Scenic Railway train at a level crossing at Portsmith on Monday afternoon.
Cairns Base Hospital says it received 18 patients, but only five remained there on Tuesday.
They include a 21-year-old woman who is in a serious condition, and four men, aged 23 to 47, who are listed as stable.
All of the patients were passengers on the bus, which collided with the train at a crossing marked with flashing lights and signs, but without boom gates.
Queensland Rail spokesman Martin Ryan has told the ABC the scenic railway will run as normal while crash investigations continue.
The train involved has been taken to a maintenance shed for a full inspection before being returned to service.
11-year-old boy dies in house fire at Westlake in Brisbane's west [ABC – 16/6/15]
Shattered family vows to fight for answers [Chronicle - 16/6/15]:
The family of a man killed in an industrial accident in 2013 will today start the process of getting the case before the State Coroner.
Simon Poxon died from injuries sustained when he became caught between a truck and a cherry picker at a Torrington business on February 26, 2013.
Emotional family members were present in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court yesterday for the sentencing of Jameson Nathan Boon, 22.
Boon pleaded guilty to one charge of failure to comply with health and safety duties. He was placed on a $5000 bond and walked from court beside a member of his legal team.
The court heard Boon was driving a cherry picker onsite at Sherrin Rentals when, on February 26, 2013, reversed the machine when he meant to drive forward.
Mr Poxon, 47, got caught and was rushed to Toowoomba Hospital where he died a short time later.
He had worked at the business for two days.
Speaking outside court yesterday, Mr Poxon's brother Michael Poxon said the family had been left devastated by the result.
He said the man responsible for his brother's death had walked away from court with no penalty.
"This is a weak and pathetic result," he said.
"Anybody's life is worth more than nothing, and that is essentially what has happened today."
Simon's widow Marie Poxon said she would today write to the Queensland Coroner's Court, calling for a full inquest into her husband's death.
Man in custody following Nerang hostage situation
A man is in custody after allegedly holding his mother against her will at a Nerang home this afternoon.
Police rushed to the scene on Crane Crescent just after 1.15pm.
The man, who is known to police, was arrested at the scene.
No one was hurt in the incident.
Three people injured in truck rollover on Peak Downs Highway, Coppabella [Daily Mercury - 16/6/15]
Two injured after car crashes into tree, Nerang [MYGC - 16/6/15]
Unlawful wounding, Labrador [QPS Media – 16/6/15]
Serious drug charges, Labrador [QPS Media - 15/6/15]
Armed robbery, Marsden [QPS Media – 15/6/15]
Paramedics have been called to the Gold Coast set of Pirates of the Caribbean Five.
Someone called for help from Maudsland yesterday after a stuntman hurt his back during a leap, which did not go to plan.
Late yesterday a source confirmed that the man was rushed to the Gold Coast University Hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery. ... [MYGC - 16/6/15]
High Court to hear whether Myriad Genetics' gene patent stands
[ABC – 16/6/15]
Toowoomba Mosque graffitist fined $750 with no conviction
The man who defaced the Garden City Mosque has pleaded guilty to a charge of wilful damage.
Rony Dignity Ahmed was the last person to appear before the Toowoomba Magistrates Court today.
The court heard the 26-year-old was in town for the First Coat Festival in May when, using a black marker pen, he wrote various Arabic words and symbols on the walls and windows of the mosque.
The mosque was unusable at the time due to two arson attacks previously.
There was no suggestion Ahmed was involved in the arson attacks.
Police investigated and located two fingerprints on a CD at the scene which identified Ahmed.
Toowoomba police then located him in the Brisbane suburb of Redcliffe on June 9 and, during interviews, located a number of photos of the graffiti on his phone.
Duty solicitor Claire Graham said her client had told police he had photos of the damage on his phone and handed it over to officers.
She said her client had cooperated with police and willingly returned to Toowoomba to face court.
She said Ahmed had an interest in graffiti art and submitted to the court he had one prior offence in his criminal history from New South Wales.
"My client is upset by the effect this has had on people," she said.
She said since the damage occurred, her client had returned to Toowoomba on a number of occasions and apologised to the city's Islamic religious leaders.
He had also cleaned the graffiti from the mosque.
"He has apologised for his action and any disrespect he may have shown," she said.
Magistrate Bruce Schemioneck accepted Ahmed had apologised and felt remorse for his actions and took into account his early guilty plea.
He fined Ahmed $750 and ordered that no conviction be recorded.
Time for a Royal Commission into all aspects of the Australian government's treatment of refugees since 1992
Sydney Morning Herald [16/6/15]:
Photographs of thousands of US dollars handed to six people smugglers [boat crew] have been provided to Fairfax Media, which Indonesian police say is proof of bribery by Australian officials.
"We have given you the evidence," says General Endang Sunjaya, the police chief of Nusa Tenggara Timur province. "It's now up to you and other organisations to demand an answer from the Australian government."
And in a blistering attack, the head of the people smuggling division of the Nusa Tenggara Timur province, Ibrahim, said sending 65 asylum seekers [52 are registered as refugees] back to Indonesia on two boats with just a drum of fuel each was akin to "a suicide mission", asking "where is the humanity?".
He said if their boat had hit a reef and been stranded off of Landu island at high tide (instead of low tide) it would have been too dangerous for the local villagers to rescue them.
General Endang said the six crew members had all sworn under oath they received about $US5000 from an Australian official to return to Indonesia. Their accounts were corroborated by asylum seekers who were separately interrogated.
"We believe the payments happened," said General Endang. "They all said the same thing. They were paid by Australian officials to return to Indonesia."
General Endang said the alleged payments could trigger a new kind of crime, where people smuggling syndicates would put fake asylum seekers on a boat in order to extract money from the Australian Government.
"The money is now being kept as evidence that this was not a made up story," said General Endang Sunjaya. "This is very unexpected. If it happened in Indonesia it would constitute a bribe."
General Endang said he had now handed the police investigation report to the National Police headquarters in Jakarta.
"It is now up to HQ what to do next. It is out of our jurisdiction."
General Endang showed Fairfax Media the photographs of the cash but they were provided for publication from another source.
Mr Ibrahim, who interrogated the crew members until 2am Saturday, said the captain, Yohanis Humiang, initially refused to return to Indonesia because the crew would not be paid by a people smuggling agent until the boat reached New Zealand.
The crew had been told they would be paid between 100 and 150 million Rupiah ($10,000 - $15,000) when the 65 asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka landed in New Zealand.
They were intercepted in international waters but were escorted to Greenhill Island in the Northern Territory. Mr Ibrahim said it was here, on board the HMAS Wollongong, that the deal was struck.
Mr Ibrahim said the payments to return to Indonesia were negotiated by an Australian official named Agus on board the navy warship HMAS Wollongong.
"Agus was not wearing a uniform, he went back and forth between the two (Navy and customs) ships," Mr Ibrahim said. "He was respected by the other officials and had authority over the situation."
He rescued 1,000s from concentration camps during WW2 - the Australian political and media establishment would call him a "people smuggler". ----> The story of Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden and how he rescued concentration camp inmates from Germany during WWII [Al Jazeera – 13/6/15]
Professor Jane McAdam [Canberra Times - 22/4/15]:
... International law does not privilege the treatment of the citizen over the non-citizen. As the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights states in its "recommended principles and guidelines on human rights at international borders", borders are not black holes for human rights. While states are entitled to exercise jurisdiction at their borders, they must do so in light of their human rights obligations.
A notable difference between those seeking to cross the Mediterranean by boat, and those seeking to reach Australia by boat, is that European movements are much more mixed. Mixed flows of people involve asylum seekers in search of protection, as well as migrants looking for work and better opportunities. By contrast, most people seeking asylum in our region are refugees, as recognition rates in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Nauru show.
But while refugees require special protection – including access to refugee status determination procedures – all migrants must be treated with dignity and have their rights respected. States cannot act unilaterally or without impunity on the seas. Australian legislation authorising officials effectively to do what they like when dealing with asylum seekers at sea would never pass muster in Europe, because it is wholly inconsistent with international law and EU law. ...
Australia incarcerates and tortures Iranian dissidents
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [16/6/15]:
Refugee advocates are seriously concerned for the welfare of a 45 year-old Iraqi asylum seeker who has been on a dry hunger strike at Yongah Hill detention centre since Sunday, 14 June.
The Iraqi man who arrived in Australia in October 2012, was released on a bridging visa in December 2012, but has been in detention two years since he was re-detained in June 2013.
There has been no consideration of his protection claim in those two years. Independent psychiatric assessments have shown that detention is having a seriously detrimental affect on his mental health, but the department has not yet considered community detention as an alternative to on-going detention in Yongah Hill.
The man has been on restricted food intake since mid-May, but escalated the hunger strike protest as his indefinite detention dragged on.
The department has turned a deaf ear to many letters from the Australian community and church friends requesting the Minister to release him from detention.
“We are very concerned with his deteriorating health,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition. “As usual, the department is just waiting for him to be collapse before offering any medical or psychiatric support.”
“His fate is in the Minister’s hands. Peter Dutton has wide discretionary powers to offer him a bridging visa.
“The Iraqi man is in a similar situation to the scores of Iranians who were re-detained and are being held in detention although they cannot be sent back to Iran.
“Such pointless detention should be immediately ended.”
World's foremost force for inequality - IMF - now wants to lecture world about inequality [Financial Times - 16/6/15]
Greece v IMF [Reuters - 15/6/15]
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa announced Monday night that two controversial tax bills that have sparked protests throughout the week will be halted.
According to the head of state, the decision is rooted in the best interest of the people, to launch a debate and avoid violence.
“We can wait. This is not for our government, this is for future generations,” explained Correa.
The president clarified that the opposition is not trying to debate these laws, but to oust him. This is why a debate would show that they do not have real arguments and are trying to use the tax laws as an excuse to topple him.
Correa said that, if the opposition can show that the taxes would affect the poorest of Ecuadoreans, he would discard both projects.
What's fuelling the violence?
Four killed in attack, Enga [The National - 16/6/15]:
A pastor, a police officer, a teacher and a six-year-old boy died in a “barbaric, evil” payback killing believed to involve their tribesmen, police say.
Acting Enga police commander Chief Inspector Epenes Nili said the incident on Saturday morning at Aipus village near Wabag town, was related to the death two years ago of a police officer from the same Sikir tribe.
Nili said the first to be killed was a police officer returning home after his night shift around 1am. He was attacked and killed in front of his home in the village.
The suspects then went to the home of the pastor, the police officer’s brother, and killed him with his six-year-old son.
The pastor’s wife, who was badly wounded, is admitted at the intensive care unit of Wabag General Hospital, with two other women.
Nili said the suspects then broke into the home of the teacher nearby and killed him.
Nili said the main suspects were a ward councillor, his son (a police officer), his brother (a public servant) and a younger brother (a police reserve unit officer).
“I condemn this barbaric killing in the strongest term possible. It’s evil,” he said.
He said in Enga tradition, people never killed those who were sleeping.
Nili said neighbouring tribesmen from Telyal assisted police on Saturday morning to look for the suspects but they had gone into hiding.
“I am now appealing to them to surrender to police,” he said.
The Enga police task force unit is assisting detectives look for the tribesmen.
A police team is camped at Aipus village to maintain peace and order as tension is high.
Territories and resources resources given as birthright to each by Hela are as follows ...
The designated land area of huli include Tari pori, margarima,benaria, hulia and Tani, pureni areas. Under this area is Mt Kare gold project, Moran and Moro Oilfields.
Opena land includes whole of current Enga Province. Opene was the first born son of Hela and under its boundary was given the largest gold mine in PNG, Porgera.
Duna Land includes the whole of strickland gorge and Koroba Kopiago electorates.
Tuguba lands start from Mt Bosavi and ends at Mt Gigira. traditionally tuguba lands was known as any areas opposite the Tagali river from Huli lands. Under its lands lies the Hides, Juha and Mananda petroleum projects.
Hewa lands are found in the Lake Kopiago Rural district. This includes the lands bordering both the Laigaip and Om Rivers as well as the headwaters of the Strickland River and the grasslands of the Strickland gorge north of the Duna lands around the Galaga settlement.
dead in clashes over stolen pig [PNG Loop – 22/4/15]
PNG: Hela Province needs magistrate, police say [The National - 31/3/15]
A teenage girl was chopped to death by a group of armed men numbering about 15 on Sunday night.
Police say the men attacked Piangoanda village in Komo-Magarima, Hela Province on suspicion over the theft of seven pigs earlier. ... [PNG Loop - 31/3/15]
Australian High Commission, Hela provincial government and ExxonMobil PNG announce a partnership to support and expand community safety [Australian High Commission PNG Media Release - 11/12/14]:
Hela Governor, Mr. Anderson Agiru, ExxonMobil PNG (EMPNG) Managing Director Peter Graham and Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Ms Deborah Stokes, signed a Statement of Principles committing support for community safety through the PNG-Australia Law and Justice - Transition Program.
A Memorandum of Understanding was subsequently signed between the Australia High Commission and EMPNG enabling joint funding of a full-time Tari-based community safety adviser.
“This is an excellent example of how business and development partners can work together to improve the lives of Papua New Guineans. Our partnership affirms our joint commitment to supporting and expanding community safety, and to the economic development of Papua New Guinea,” Ms Stokes said.
The placement of a Community Safety Adviser in Tari will support the Hela government’s efforts to strengthen local justice delivery, improve collaboration with national agencies and assist in reporting justice outcomes. Of particular focus will be support for Village Courts and reducing and preventing family and sexual violence.
Governor Agiru extended his full support to the initiative.
“The placement of a full-time law and justice advisor in Hela is welcomed, as it builds upon the work already done by the PALJP team in the province. My administration fully supports this initiative, and we appreciate the willingness of the PNG national government, the Australian government and ExxonMobil to support Hela’s development priorities.”
ExxonMobil PNG Managing Director Peter Graham noted during the signing ceremony that development challenges require ongoing collaboration between the public sector, industry and civil society.
“ExxonMobil remains committed to helping develop human, social and economic capacity in PNG. We are pleased to support the Law and Justice Partnership and commend the PALJP -TP team and the Hela Provincial Government for moving this initiative forward.”
The 100th cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US$19 billion (K15 billion) Papua New Guinea LNG Project has left the country Japan over the weekend.
According to ExxonMobil PNG Ltd, the 163,000m3 of LNG was bound for Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc. (Tepco), the same customer that received the first cargo last May.
More than 7 million tonnes of LNG have been exported since the project commenced production in April 2014. ... [The National - 16/6/15]
7,000-plus Tochigi Pref. residents seek compensation from TEPCO over nuclear disaster [The Mainichi – 15/6/15]
NZ industry backs US meat labelling move
The meat industry here is hoping the United States will dump its law requiring compulsory country of origin labelling for meat imports.
The House of Representatives has voted to repeal the law, in response to a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling that country of origin requirements for beef, chicken, pork and some other products discriminates against imports.
Canada and Mexico are proposing retaliatory trade penalties against the US after winning their WTO case.
The US Congress also needs to repeal the law for the compulsory labelling to be scrapped.
New Zealand Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said it hoped that would happen, because it had been a bone of contention for exporters supplying our largest beef market since it was imposed in 2009.
"As a country we're normally pretty proud to have our name out there on the product and clearly would use that wherever it is practicable but sometimes, in terms of hamburger meat in the US, that might comprise product from many origins, so the size of the label gets extraordinarily big and defeats the whole purpose of country of origin labelling," he said.
"As a country, we support multi-lateral trading systems and compliance with the WTO trade rules, and that's all about providing a level playing field for global trade, so anything that's not compliant with the WTO we would seek to support its removal."
Mr Ritchie said it was hard to put a definitive cost on the labelling requirement but there were hidden costs which had an impact on processes and compliance measures.
South Korea MERS death toll rises to 19; 4 more cases diagnosed [CNN – 16/6/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [15/6/15]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Attack and fighter aircraft conducted three airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL motorcycles, two ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL tunnel systems and an ISIL communication tower.
-- Near Kobani, two airstrikes struck one large and one small ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 16 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Baghdadi, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Huwayjah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar firing position, destroying an ISIL tunnel entrance and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Qaim, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Beiji, one airstrike destroyed six ISIL bunkers.
-- Near Makhmur, four airstrikes struck one large and one small ISIL tactical unit, two ISIL staging areas and an ISIL mortar firing position, destroying three ISIL heavy machine guns, two ISIL structures and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck two ISIL mortar firing positions, an ISIL rocket firing positon and an ISIL rocket system.
-- Near Ramadi, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit, destroying two ISIL buildings, two ISIL heavy machine guns, two ISIL tunnel systems and an ISIL rocket-propelled grenade.
-- Near Tal Afar, three airstrikes struck two ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL mortar firing position, destroying an ISIL building and an ISIL vehicle.
Syrian Kurdish fighters say they have taken the strategic town of Tal Abyad, a major supply route to Raqqa province, a stronghold of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria. ... [Al Jazeera - 16/6/15]
At least 20 people were killed and 100 wounded on Monday in Syrian rebel rocket fire on government-held parts of the city of Aleppo, Syrian state media said. ... [Ahram - 15/6/15]
Syria: UN special envoy arrives in Damascus for talks with Government officials [Media Release – 15/6/15]
US drone strike kills "top al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader" in Yemen [CNN - 16/6/15]
The death toll from the latest Saudi airstrikes on Yemen’s provinces of al-Jawf and Ta'izz has risen to 35. ... [Press TV - 15/6/15]
Iraq's Sadr says Saudis, US increasing sectarianism in the region [France 24 - 16/5/15]
U.S. weapons worth $462 million including missiles and aircraft will arrive to Lebanon by the end of next year, Defense Minister Samir Moqbel said Monday. ... [Daily Star - 16/6/15]
Afghanistan: Over 200 "militants" killed, wounded in security forces operations across the country [Khaama - 16/6/15]
Prolonged road blockades and insecurity in three districts of central Uruzgan province have led to a sharp decline in food supplies and hike in prices, a legislator said on Monday.
Obaidullah Barakzai, head of the Wolesi Jirga Complaints Commission, told the house that roads leading to Charchino, Geezab and Khas Uruzgan districts had been closed for a month and a half because of intense fighting.
“Today is the 48th day of road closures in these districts, where food supplies on the verge of depletion. There is a strong likelihood of a humanitarian disaster if emergency supplies are not rushed there,” the lawmaker warned. ... [Pajhwok - 15/6/15]
A civilian was killed and nine others wounded in two separate blasts in southeastern Khost and Paktia provinces, officials said on Monday. ... [Pajhwok - 15/6/15]
African Union to send military experts to Burundi: Official [Ahram - 15/6/15]
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned a series of deadly bombings in the Chadian capital of N’Djamena which reportedly killed more than 25 people and injured dozens of others, according to a spokesperson for the United Nations. ... [Media Release - 15/6/15]
The United Nations refugee agency reported today that some 14,000 South Sudanese – mainly women and children – have fled into Sudan over the weekend, describing the situation as “an emergency within an emergency.”
“The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered close to 160,000 refugees in Sudan since fighting broke out in South Sudan in December 2013,” stated UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric during the daily briefing to the press at UN Headquarters in New York.
A key priority for the humanitarian community, he added, is to prepare for the upcoming rainy season, which is due to start in the coming weeks and will further complicate operations. ... [Media Release - 15/6/15]
The International Criminal Court's chief deputy prosecutor on Monday voiced disappointment at South Africa's failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, as the African leader jetted back to Khartoum, saying it had breached its obligations. ... [Ahram - 15/6/15]
Israel blocks visit of UN human rights envoy
Israel has blocked a visit to the Palestinian territories by a UN rights envoy, an official said Monday, just ahead of the publication of a United Nations report on last year's Gaza war.
It was the second time Makarim Wibisono, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, had been barred entry.
"We didn't allow this visit," which was to take place last week, foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP.
"Israel cooperates with all the international commissions and all rapporteurs, except when the mandate handed to them is anti-Israeli and Israel has no chance to make itself heard."
The UN Human Rights Council, to which Wibisono reports, has been conducting an investigation into the actions of both Israel and Palestinian militants during last year's conflict.
Its report is expected to be published in the coming days, and the council is scheduled to debate it on June 29.
The UN's human rights chief, speaking at the opening of the council's 29th session in Geneva on Monday, confirmed the publication was imminent.
"It is my hope the report will pave the way for justice to be done to all civilians who fell victim to the fighting last year, by holding to account those alleged to have committed grave and other serious violations of international humanitarian law," High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said.
It was the second time Makarim Wibisono, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, had been barred entry by Israel (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini, File)
The war killed 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians including 500 children, and 73 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.
While Wibisono reports to the council, his visit was for a separate, annual assessment in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Israel barred him from entering last year for a similar visit.
Online Poll Finds Majority Of Black Australia Opposed To Recognise Campaign [New Matilda - 16/6/15]
An armed man trying to get into the Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas was shot at the gate on Monday and is in critical condition at an area hospital, base officials said.
The incident sent the base into lockdown for nearly three hours while authorities examined the car driven by the man. They believe he was acting alone but did not identify him or release further information. Authorities said he carried a rifle. ... [Reuters - 15/6/15]
NZ joins Australia, US for Talisman Sabre [RNZI – 11/6/15]:
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is gearing up for a mass invasion of Australia, on a mission to build closer trans-Tasman ties.
Commodore John Campbell, the acting commander of the joint services, says the Talisman Sabre exercise with Australia and the United States is about learning how to "integrate" into other forces more easily.
For the first time, New Zealand has been invited to take part in Australia's biggest mock war exercise with the United States - Talisman Sabre - which involves 30,000 troops, 21 ships, more than 200 aircraft and three submarines.
The acting commander of the joint services, Commodore John Campbell, said New Zealand's relatively modest contingent of 650 personnel, 45 vehicles and two helicopters, was "a small part of that".
But Commodore Campbell, who is also the maritime commander in charge of the naval fleet, said it was a big deal for New Zealand, which was allowed to attend as an "observer" during the last exercise two years ago.
"It's actually going to make sure we can integrate into other forces more easily," he said.
"We can fit in with what we're trying to achieve in the Defence Force with our joint taskforce set-up, where we bring our three services together more regularly and operate as one force."
Talisman Sabre covers training in land, air and maritime warfare, and a range of scenarios - from low-level humanitarian missions to high-end combat, with ground invasions in Queensland and duelling warships off the coast of Darwin and in US territory.
New Zealand's defence relations with the US have been warming in recent years, particularly since Washington three years ago lifted the ban on New Zealand naval visits, which was implemented in 1986 in retaliation against the country's nuclear-free stance.
HMNZS Canterbury last year docked in Pearl Harbour in Hawaii during RIMPAC, the largest maritime military exercise in the world.
However, Commodore Campbell dismissed suggestions the latest invitation represented a further thawing in relations.
"We just see it as part of our relationship with Australia, more than anything else... We'll be integrated with the Australian forces, so that's all we see it as."
Talisman Sabre is the largest exercise that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) conducts with all four services of the US armed forces in a combined and joint environment.
The NZDF has been invited to participate in this year's bilateral exercise, which will be held from 5 - 21 July in multiple training areas in Australia and the US. It will involve around 30,000 troops from the ADF and the US military, 21 ships including the US navy aircraft carrier USS George Washington, more than 200 aircraft and three submarines.
It is also the first time the controversial NH90 helicopters have been deployed internationally since they arrived in 2012.
The eight French-made multi-purpose helicopters, which cost $771 million, were intended to replace the ageing Iroquois, but have been dogged by problems, including concerns about "wind wash" and difficulties in transporting them.
Commodore Campbell said Talisman Sabre comes at the ideal time for the NH90's "test and evaluation phase".
HMNZS Canterbury leaves for Canterbury on Saturday ahead of the start of Talisman Sabre, which runs 5 - 21 July.
Japan, New Zealand to join Talisman Sabre exercise [Australian Defence Magazine - 19/5/15]
Escape from Baku
Courage Foundation [13/6/15]:
While audiences around the world were glued to the opening of the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, attended by European national leaders, a secret Swiss Air Force flight made its way from Baku to Bern, Switzerland.
Inside was “Azerbaijan’s Julian Assange,” Emin Huseynov, who has spent the last year holed up in the Swiss Embassy in Baku after a government crackdown against journalists and activists.
Courage, the international organisation dedicated to the protection of truth-tellers, has been involved in Huseynov’s case for over six months and successfully procured him a humanitarian travel visa allowing him to leave his embassy refuge and fly out of the country late last night. He will now apply for asylum in Switzerland.
Courage runs Huseynov’s legal fund and will be supporting him in his asylum application. The organisation calls on the Swiss government to receive Huseynov’s application favourably and grant him asylum.
This is the second such asylum flight Courage has arranged. Courage Trustee Julian Assange and Acting Director Sarah Harrison successfully obtained asylum for Edward Snowden in 2013, after ensuring his safe passage out of Hong Kong to Russia.
Their work on the Huseynov case establishes Courage’s competence and expertise in securing asylum for truth-tellers in high-risk political situations.
How the Yes Men Found Themselves in a Flourishing Bromance With Julian Assange [Vogue – 15/6/15]
... Whatever happened to
The life that we once knew?
Always made me feel so free ...
'Free as a Bird', The Beatles 
Snowden, Putin, Greece: It’s All The Same Story [The Automatic Earth - 14/6/15]:
Through the last decades, as we have been getting ever more occupied trying to be what society tells us is defined as successful, we all missed out on a lot of changes in our world. Or perhaps we should be gentle to ourselves and say we’re simply slow to catch up.
Which is somewhat curious since we’ve also been getting bombarded with fast increasing amounts of what we’re told is information, so you’d think it might have become easier to keep up. It was not.
While we were busy being busy we for instance were largely oblivious to the fact the US is no longer a beneficial force in the world, and that it doesn’t spread democracy or freedom. Now you may argue to what extent that has ever been true, and you should, but the perception was arguably much closer to the truth 70 years ago, at the end of WWII, then it is today.
Another change we really can’t get our heads around is how the media have turned from a source of information to a source of – pre-fabricated – narratives. We’ll all say to some extent or another that we know our press feeds us propaganda, but, again arguably, few of us are capable of pinpointing to what extent that is true. Perhaps no big surprise given the overdose of what passes for information, but duly noted.
So far so good, you’re not as smart as you think. Bummer. But still an easy one to deny in the private space of your own head. If you get undressed and stand in front of the mirror, though, maybe not as easy.
What ails us is, I was going to say perfectly human, but let’s stick with just human, and leave perfection alone. What makes us human is that it feels good to be protected, safe, and prosperous. Protected from evil and from hard times, by a military force, by a monetary fund, by a monetary union. It feels so good in fact that we don’t notice when what’s supposed to keep us safe turns against us.
But it is what happens, time and again, and, once again arguably, ever more so. What we think the world looks like is increasingly shaped by fiction. Perhaps that means we live in dreamtime. Or nightmare time. Whatever you call it, it’s not real. Pinching yourself is not going to help. Reading Orwell might.
A protest against the Nauruan government has broken out outside the country’s parliament, leading to the arrest of opposition MP Matthew Batsieu.
The protest follows allegations that place the president, Baron Waqa, and justice minister, David Adeang, at the centre of bribery claims, after the the ABC published extracts from emails that appear to suggest that both men were allegedly bribed by Australian mining company Getax.
The Nauruan parliament is sitting on Tuesday, but was suspended briefly due to noise from the protest.
Dutton is right, we should never have closed the refugee concentration camp on Nauru: Shorten [West Australian - 16/6/15]
"There were policies which saw the people smugglers try to take advantage of Australia's generosity," Mr Shorten says.
Senator Di Natale helps ALP with its "refugees are people smugglers" talking point [Sydney Morning Herald - 16/6/15]:
11:37am: Greens leader Richard Di Natale is addressing the boats question.
"Stopping the boats is easy. The question is what price are we prepared to pay," Senator Di Natale says.
"We have crossed a line. We are now engaged in the people smuggling business."
Senator Di Natale acknowledges the "diabolical" nature of immigration policy but says a "circuit breaker" is needed. "It is leaving a stain on this nation. We have to stop."
Senator Di Natale says being able to show compassion is "a sign of strength".
"Compassion"??? "Circuit breaker"???? Try JUSTICE and Australia's obligations as a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention.
Nauru: Facebook blackout continues after a month and a half. Sexual and other assaults continue. [New Matilda - 16/6/15]
Irish navy rescues hundreds of refugees that Australia's political, media and human rights establishment would call "people smugglers"
As other navies rescue refugees in the Mediterranean, the Australian navy looks for a war. [Navy Daily - 15/6/15]: ... Anzac departed Sydney in March and has transited the Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, Suez Canal, the Mediterranean Sea and most recently the North Atlantic en route to Ferrol. During the five month deployment, the ship has represented Australia at commemorative events in the Sea of Marmara, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Italy, Malta and France. ...
Irish naval vessel LÉ Eithne has been involved in the rescue of more than 460 migrants in two separate operations northwest of Tripoli.
At around 7.30am, 367 migrants who were found on board a wooden barge were taken on board LÉ Eithne in a three-hour operation in choppy conditions.
The 278 men, 80 women and nine children received medical screening, food and water.
In a second operation this afternoon around 100 migrants were rescued from a rubber dinghy.
Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, Lieutenant Commander Eric Timon said the migrants were suffering from sea sickness and exposure.
LÉ Eithne left Cork on 16 May to assist Italian authorities in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
According to the UNHCR more than 90,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean so far in 2015, at least 1,850 have drowned or are missing at sea.
The crew of LÉ Eithne has rescued hundreds of migrants since its deployment last month.
Meanwhile, the bodies of 18 west African migrants travelling to Europe have been found in the Sahara desert in Niger.
It is believed the 17 men and one woman lost their way in a sandstorm after setting off from the town of Arlit in north-central Niger.
They are thought to have died on 3 June.
The International Organization for Migration said the migrants were from Niger, Mali, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, the Central African Republic, Liberia, Guinea and Algeria.
Unlike in the Mediterranean, there are no rescue missions in the Sahara, and it remains unclear how many people die trying to cross the desert.
It is estimated that 100,000 people are likely to attempt the same journey across the Sahara this year alone.
@moas_eu [15/6/15]: #MOAS just concluded a rescue of 297 migrants, mostly from Eritrea. Another 106 transferred from Bourbon Argos #MSF.
Australia's "refugees are people smugglers" media even censors $230m Indian Ocean heroin bust [TVNZ - 16/6/15]:
The New Zealand Navy has made a massive drug bust on the Indian Ocean as part of a 30-nation multinational taskforce.
In the past week the frigate Te Kaha seized 260 kilograms of heroin worth an estimated $235 million.
On Saturday Te Kaha's crew boarded a dhow spotted by a New Zealand P-3K2 Orion three days earlier and after a seven-hour search, discovered 118 kgs of heroin.
Five days earlier a boarding party from Te Kaha uncovered 139 one-kilogram bags of heroin in hidden compartments on another dhow.
The Te Kaha has been working in the region since early May as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), and concluded her deployment yesterday.
Te Kaha intercepted and searched seven other dhows during patrols off the Horn of Africa and Madagascar in the past five weeks. T
he seized drugs were bound for Africa and much of them would have ended up in Europe, says NZDF Commodore John Campbell.
During the same operation, Australian Navy frigate HMAS Newcastle netted 724kgs of narcotics worth an estimated $660 million.
Her drug haul represents a quarter of the 981kgs of illegal drugs that have been seized and destroyed since May as part of the CMF operations in the region.
... Commodore Campbell said he was not aware of any similar bust in New Zealand's naval history.
He said it was possible the fisherman carrying the drugs in hidden compartments may not have known they were there.
The fisherman were not detained or arrested as the Navy does not have the power to do so.
Refugee Week 2015: Close Manus petition to be tabled in Senate
Will the Australian media maintain their censorship on the constitutional challenge?
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [16/5/15]:
... A petition will be tabled in the Senate on Tuesday 16 June, 2015 signed by more than 65,000 people calling for the [refugee] detention centres to be closed immediately.
Bashings continue on Manus Island and sexual abuse of refugees continues unabated and unpunished as revealed by the Senate Inquiry into Nauru.
No one has faced justice for the deaths of Reza Berati and Hamid Kehazaei.
The Nauru and Manus Island Detention Centres are a major policy failure and are a key part of a set of policies which have destroyed Australia’s reputation.
The UN Committee Against Torture told the Australian government in November 2014 that conditions for asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru amount to “cruel, inhuman, and unlawful” punishment.
The latest direction’s hearing in the constitutional challenge to the Manus Island detention centre is scheduled in the Supreme Court of PNG is also scheduled for Tuesday 16 June.
The direction’s hearing is expected to finalise details before the five judges of the Supreme Court is empanelled and a trial date set for the full hearing.
Nauru and Manus Island Detention Centres must be closed now!
A rally to protest current asylum seeker policies will be held at 12.30 pm on Tuesday 16 June , 2015, Commonwealth Government Offices, 1 Bligh St, Sydney.
Speakers include: Nicole Judge, ex Manus worker who gave evidence to Senate inquiry into the death of Reza Barati and the recent inquiry into child detention abuse on Nauru.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlights contempt and hostility of Australian politicians toward refugees
The Age [16/6/15]:
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has delivered a withering critique of Australia's treatment of asylum seekers, saying he is bewildered by the "hostility and contempt" for them, including women and children, that is "so widespread among the country's politicians".
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has also backed the Australian Human Rights Commission's view that the treatment of those in detention on Manus Island and Nauru violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Speaking at an interactive dialogue on the human rights of migrants during a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, Mr Zeid declared: "All of us are aware of the lethal crises regarding rescue at sea in Europe and South-East Asia.
"Our concerns must extend also to those attempting to enter Australia and the United States, and to the abuses of migrants that are so frequent throughout the world – including many countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council – as well as shocking recent violence in South Africa."
Lamenting that Australia's response to arrivals had set a "poor benchmark" for its regional neighbours, Mr Zeid added: "The authorities have also engaged in turn-arounds and push-backs of boats in international waters."
He complained that "even recognized refugees in urgent need of protection" were not permitted to enter Australia, "which has set up relocation arrangements with countries that may be ill-prepared to offer them any durable solution".
"Such policies should not be considered a model by any country.
"Given that most of today's Australians themselves descend from migrants – and given that the country maintains sizeable regular programs for migration and resettlement – I am bewildered by the hostility and contempt for these women, men and children that is so widespread among the country's politicians."
The comments by Mr Zeid follow his accusation that Australia has committed a "chain of human rights violations" in its treatment of asylum seekers when he became the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights last September. They come after Australia was singled out for stinging criticism in a report by Amnesty International proposing a "paradigm shift" in the response of world leaders to "the worst refugee crisis of our era".
Amnesty International's Secretary General, Salil Shetty, describes the global refugee crisis as one of the defining challenges of the 21st century, but laments that the response of the international community has been "a shameful failure".
Mr Shetty says accuses Australia of setting "a terrible precedent" in the region by embracing a hard-line approach to asylum-seekers that, "under the guise of saving lives", has violated its responsibilities under refugee and human rights law.
The report also accuses Australia, Thailand and other unnamed countries of pursuing policies aimed at pushing "the issue of refugees and migrants out of their jurisdiction and out of sight of the public".
It brands Australia's offshore processing policy as "particularly egregious", finding that "the deliberately harsh, humiliating conditions at the Australian-run detention facility were designed to pressure asylum seekers to return to their country of origin, regardless of whether or not they were refugees".
Called, The Global Refugee Crisis, A Conspiracy of Neglect, the report says the situation across the Asia Pacific region is one where refugees fleeing persecution in countries like Myanmar move along routes also used by economic migrants that are dominated by people smugglers and human traffickers.
"Too often, governments try to avoid their legal obligations to refugees and victims of human trafficking by characterising them all as 'migrants', labelling victims of abuse as 'illegal'," it says.
The report calls for a summit of world leaders to consider:
Committing to collectively resettle the one million refugees who currently need resettlement over the next four years.
Establishing a global refugee fund that will fulfil all UN humanitarian appeals for refugee crises and provide financial support to countries hosting large numbers of refugees.
The global ratification of the UN Refugee Convention.
Developing "fair domestic systems to assess refugee claims and guarantee that refugees have access to basic services such as education and healthcare".
"The world can no longer sit and watch while countries like Lebanon and Turkey take on such huge burdens. No country should be left to deal with a massive humanitarian emergency with so little help from others, just because it happens to share a border with a country in conflict," says Mr Shetty.
"Governments across the world have the duty to ensure people do not die while trying to reach safety. It is essential that they offer a safe haven for desperate refugees, establish a global refugee fund and take effective action to prosecute trafficking gangs. Now is the time to step up protection for refugees, anything less will make world leaders accomplices in this preventable tragedy."
UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights [15/6/15]:
... United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed his growing alarm at the failure of the international community to protect the rights of migrants, who in their search for safety and opportunity were too often met with more exploitation, discrimination and violence, coupled with harshly enforced refusals to permit entry. The death-toll of migrants in the Mediterranean was a cause for profound alarm: it demonstrated conclusively that militarised deterrence and enforcement policies would fail and that if no other option was available, they would brave terrible peril to seek safety for themselves and their children. High Commissioner Zeid welcomed the European Union’s recent determination to tackle migration in a more comprehensive manner, and the newly intensified search and rescue efforts in the Mediterranean, and said that far bolder steps were needed to integrate the notion that the European Union needed and should welcome more migration at all skill-levels. It was well within the European Union’s means to give refuge, over a number of years, to one million refugees displaced by the conflicts in Syria and elsewhere. This would represent barely 0.2 per cent of the European Union's population – compared to Lebanon, which had taken in 26 per cent of its population in refugees. The resources currently deployed for ineffective border control systems could instead be invested in maximizing the benefit of regular migration channels. For many years, people had been fleeing persecution in Myanmar and poverty in Bangladesh, notably via trafficking and smuggling rings. Mass graves had been discovered last month in Thailand and Malaysia, containing the bodies of presumed victims of human trafficking and smuggling gangs; most of these victims were said to have been Rohingya from Myanmar, who were denied citizenship and suffered a pattern of persecution which was considered to be a driver of the Rohingya exodus.
Australia’s response to migrant arrivals had set a poor benchmark for its regional neighbours and it did not permit entry to even recognized refugees in urgent need of protection, but had set up relocation arrangements with countries that may be ill-prepared to offer them any durable solution. Many on the unaccompanied children who had crossed into the United States last year were fleeing uncontrolled violence by criminal gangs in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, as well as deprivation, social exclusion and discrimination. The response in the form of the increasing militarization of Mexico’s southern borders was not accompanied by improvements in the countries of origin regarding the conditions which pushed them to migrate. The United States maintained the largest immigration detention infrastructure in the world, at a cost of some $2 billion per year; alternatives to detention were urgently needed, and the High Commissioner stressed that in particular, the detention of children based on their migrant status constituted a violation of the rights of the child. The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council benefited massively from the contributions of migrant workers, and yet there were pervasive violations of their rights in several countries, including physical abuse and there was frequently no effective mechanism where abused migrants could seek redress. The Kafala sponsorship system, which enabled multiple abuses of migrants' human rights and labour rights, should be repealed as a matter of urgency, and private recruitment agencies should be properly regulated. ...
Open Up Opportunities For Resettlement Of Rohingya In Third Countries - Conference
An international conference on the plight of the Rohingya today called on all countries to open up opportunities for members of the community to be resettled in third countries and possibility, for voluntary repatriation.
The meeting also called for the United Nations (UN) agency for refugees and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to be proactively involved in the implementation of voluntary repatriation and resettlement of refugees currently in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, to relevant third countries.
These were contained in the resolution issued at the conclusion of the one-day 'International Conference on the Plight of the Rohingya, Part II: Crime Against Humanity' convened by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF) here today.
The event was attended by participants comprising representatives from the diplomatic corps, international organisations, human rights groups, civil society, non-governmental organisations, media and leaders of Rohingya organisations.
They called upon developed countries that were not yet resettlement nations to agree to settle refugees and set reasonable quotas.
The meeting felt that there was a need for the United States, Australia, the European Union and other resettlement countries to increase their quotas with a view to expediting the resettlement of refugees currently residing in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
It also urged developed countries as well as international organisations including the Organisation of Islamic Coooperation to provide direct socio-economic assistance to the Rohingya in Myanmar, as a way of discouraging them from leaving the country.
Meanwhile, PGPF president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his keynote address earlier said he had written to Myanmar's Nobel Peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on the plight of the ethnic Rohingya but had yet to receive a reply.
The matter, the former Malaysian prime minister said, should also be given more prominence by the UN.
More than 1,000 Bangladeshis and Rohingya from
Myanmar landed illegally in Malaysia's resort island of Langkawi in northern
Peninsular Malaysia last month, with authorities scrambling to prevent the
problem from ballooning.
Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) [16/6/15]:
Update from MITA: successful action completed! They have missed the plane to Darwin. Thank you and well done to all who made this happen! ...
@FFFADmelbourne: Effectively missed 8am flight!
Snap action: Stop the forced transfer of mum and daughter to Darwin: ... Today, we have found out that a mother and her daughter from the same group are to be sent from MITA, Broadmeadows, to Darwin. The mother self-harmed last week as she was so terrified at the thought of being returned to Nauru, and her teenage daughter has survived an horrific alleged rape attempt on Nauru. There are only very spurious reasons for them to be sent to Darwin, and there is every chance this is happening because it will be easier to then move them to Nauru from Darwin. ...
Select Committee on the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru Reporting Date [Hansard - 15/6/15]:
Senator McEWEN (South Australia—Opposition Whip in the Senate) (15:53): by leave—on behalf of Senator Gallacher, I move: That the time for the presentation of the report of the Select Committee on the Recent Allegations Relating to Conditions and Circumstances at the Regional Processing Centre at Nauru be extended to 31 July 2015.
Question agreed to.
CIA torture appears to have broken spy agency rule on human experimentation [Guardian - 15/6/15]:
… The OMS [Office of Medical Services] doctors were heavily involved in the torture of detainees in CIA custody.
They advised interrogators on the physical and psychological administration of what the agency called “enhanced interrogation techniques”. After observation, the doctors offered perspectives on calibrating them to specific detainees’ resilience.
OMS staff assigned to the agency’s black sites wrote emails with subject lines like: “Re: acceptable lower ambient temperatures”.
The CIA, which does not formally concede that it tortured people, insists that the presence of medical personnel ensured its torture techniques were conducted according to medical rigor. Several instances in the Senate torture report, partially declassified six months ago, record unease among OMS staff with their role in interrogations.
But other physicians and human rights experts who have long criticized the role of medical staff in torture said the extensive notes from CIA doctors on the interrogations – as they unfolded – brought OMS into the realm of human experimentation, particularly as they helped blur the lines between providing medical aid to detainees and keeping them capable of enduring further abusive interrogations.
Doctors take oaths to guarantee they inflict no harm on their patients.
Why is the Greens' boat payment motion limited to after September 2013?
Australians want LNP and ALP crimes against refugees investigated
Senate Hansard [15/6/15]:
Senator Hanson-Young to move:
(a) there be laid on the table by the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, by 3 pm on 17 June 2015, all documents containing information pertaining to:
(i) any money paid to anyone on board a vessel en route to Australia or New Zealand by any Customs, Immigration, Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) or other Commonwealth officer from September 2013 to date, and
(ii) the facilitation or authorisation of the payment of any money to anyone on board a vessel en route to Australia or New Zealand by any Customs, Immigration, ASIS or other Commonwealth officer from September 2013 to date, and in relation to any such payment, a document containing information pertaining to the details of the interception of the vessel, the amount of money paid, to whom and for what purpose; and
(b) there be laid on the table by the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, by 3 pm on 17 June 2015, any documents produced by the Office of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, ASIS or the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service regarding:
(i) the interception of a vessel en route to Australia or New Zealand in May 2015,
(ii) any orders to turn back or take back that vessel, its passengers or crew, and
(iii) any payments made to the vessel’s captain, crew or passengers.
16 June 2015