SUBMISSION 71:  Senate Inquiry Recent Allegations relating to Conditions and Circumstances at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru:



... one month ago, an intoxicated off duty NPF officer tried to break down the front gate of the house of 14 unaccompanied refugee minors while yelling racial abuse at them. They did not lodge a complaint as there have been four assaults against unaccompanied refugee minors by locals that have been reported to the police with no action taken.

On the contrary, after one assault which led to the hospitalization of a 16 year old unaccompanied refugee minor, the official police report stated that his injuries were self-inflicted.

After a different occasion where 3 unaccompanied refugee minors were assaulted by locals, a NauruanGovernment representative told all the URMs at a meeting that there is no need to be scared, Nauruans will beat you but they won't kill you.


a Wilson's guard (name withheld) with a vendetta against a male asylum seeker at camp 2, is on record admitting that he staged being beaten by the asylum seeker to get him back. I'm not sure if the asylum seeker was charged but concrete evidence of the 'set up' has been passed on to the NPF and no action has been taken. The Wilson's guard involved in this incident is now in a promoted position on island.





Footage of Nauru concentration camp guard confessing to fabricating an assault accusation against a refugee [VIDEO - Canberra Times - 18/8/15]



The hard work of #HestaDivest GRASSROOTS activism was what accomplished this.








 #HESTAdivest "super that cares" currently investing in transfield on #manus, #nauru. ...


Image: @Nikki_San [25/6/15]





Canberra Times [18/8/15]:




... Industry super fund HESTA has sold its stake in Transfield Services citing evidence of human rights violations inside the offshore detention centres run by the sharemarket-listed company.

The $32 billion fund said the risks associated with Transfield Services, the $597 million company that operates the federal government's detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, were too high.






#HESTA, divest from Transfield & the detention industry | #Manus #Nauru [xborderops – 23/1/15]




Two women stabbed and hit by car outside Carramar community centre in Sydney's south-west

ABC [18/8/15]:

A man allegedly struck a woman with his car in a Sydney community centre car park before stabbing her and another woman who came to her aid and then ran them both down before fleeing, police say.

Emergency services were called to the car park at Horsley Drive at Carramar, in Sydney's south-west, at 8:30am after reports two women were injured.

Police said initial investigations suggested a woman in her 30s was assaulted before struck by a car driven by a man.

Another woman, in her 40s, came to her assistance and the man allegedly stabbed both women before hitting them with the car and fleeing.

Both women were taken to Liverpool Hospital with serious injuries.

A crime scene has been established and investigations are continuing.

Police would like to speak with a man who was last seen driving small, dark-coloured car to assist them with inquiries.

They also urge anyone with information about the incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.




Woman killed in alleged hit and run by taxi in Crows Nest



Nine MSN [18/8/15]:



Police are investigating after an elderly woman died following a fatal hit-and-run crash on the Pacific Highway in Sydney's lower north shore this morning.

The woman, believed to be aged in her early 90s, was attempting to cross the road around 11.20am this morning when she was reportedly struck by a taxi.

The driver of the taxi allegedly failed to stop following the crash, driving south along the Pacific Highway before turning off onto another road.

The woman was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics, however she died at the scene.

Police believe the vehicle may have been a taxi designed specifically to cater for disabled passengers.






Pedestrian hit by truck in Adelaide's south-west


ABC [18/8/15]:

A man has been hit by a truck at Somerton Park in Adelaide's south-west.

The pedestrian was struck on Brighton Road just before 9:00am.

Police have closed Brighton Road to southbound traffic, with diversions in place along Diagonal Road.

Northbound traffic is limited to one lane.

Major crash investigators are currently at the scene.




Fatal traffic crash, Harlin




QPS Media [18/8/15]:



Police are currently at the scene of a traffic crash that has claimed a life at Harlin in the Brisbane Valley this morning.

Initial investigations indicate the crash involving an empty cattle truck and a utility occurred around 7.50am on the Brisbane Valley Highway about 2km south of Harlin.

The driver of the utility died at the scene.

The driver of the truck was not injured.

The highway is currently closed at the scene with diversions in place for light vehicles. The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.

There is no further information at this time.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or 24hrs a day.






Motorcyclist dies in crash near Marlborough, central Queensland




Brisbane Times [18/8/15]:




A motorcyclist is dead after a collision with a car in central Queensland.

Police have closed the Bruce Highway about 10 kilometres north of Marlborough, between Rockhampton and Mackay.

A police spokesman said detours had been set up and would likely be in place for a long time.

Emergency services were called to the crash site about 6.10pm, to reports of an elderly couple in shock and a motorcyclist badly injured.

Paramedics later confirmed the rider had died.

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.







14-year-old boy charged with grievous bodily harm, Doomadgee




QPS Media [18/8/15]:




Police have charged a 14-year-old boy after an alleged assault on Burke Street in Doomadgee yesterday morning.

It will be alleged at around 7am yesterday a 15-year-old boy was involved in an altercation, during which he sustained injuries to his head.

The injured boy was transported to Townsville hospital with serious head injuries.

A 14-year-old boy from Doomadgee has been charged with grievous bodily harm and will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justices Act.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or 24hrs a day.






Unlawful wounding, Charters Towers




QPS Media [18/8/15]:




 Police have charged a 25-year-old man following an incident on Bluff Road in Charters Towers last night.

At around 6.00pm police received reports a man had been stabbed during an altercation between two men.

On arrival police located a 35-year-old man with what appeared to be knife wounds to his chest and back.

He was subsequently transported to the Townsville Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

A 25-year-old Bowen man was located by officers a short distance from the scene.

He has been charged with one count of wounding and is due to appear in Townsville Magistrates Court today.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or 24hrs a day.






Highest number of coal mining deaths in Queensland in 20 years, mining safety conference hears




ABC [18/8/15]:



Four coal miners died in Queensland in the last year, the highest death toll in 20 years, a mining safety conference has heard.

Three died at Anglo American mines, and the fourth at Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance.

The latest statistic has formed the theme for the industry's annual safety conference, held in Townsville on Monday and Tuesday.

Mine safety expert Australian National University Professor Neil Gunningham told the conference he had surveyed a variety of senior figures at Australian mining companies for a research project.

He said many companies admitted risk management was not being done properly.

They felt they had reached a plateau, or risk management was not being treated as seriously as it should be.

One of the respondents, whom Professor Cunningham did not identify, said: "We're skirting mining disasters on a regular basis".

Another said risk management processes "were being manipulated" and some companies were "unwilling to delay production to put in safety measures".

But Professor Gunningham said not every mining company had concerns.

 "The industry generally thinks it's doing well and it has done well," he said.

"But you're only a hair's breath away from disaster," he said.







Hazelwood worker says lung illness caused by mine fire [The Age - 12/8/15]








Tattooist shut down under draconian anti rights laws wants Government to reconsider




ABC [18/8/15]:



A Rockhampton woman who had her tattoo business closed down under controversial anti-bikie laws is urging the Government to re-consider her case.

Veronica Bartley received a letter from the Office of Fair Trading last July telling her she had been denied a licence to operate Gallery Ink under the former Newman government's anti-bikie laws.

"It was devastating and I didn't believe in a million years we'd be turned down," she said.

The Tattoo Parlours Act came into force in January 2014. Prior to this, there was no requirement for tattoo business operators or tattoo artists to be licensed by the state government — although Office of Fair Trading figures estimated there were around 400 in Queensland.

Ms Bartley said she was forced to close her doors immediately and her once thriving business was converted to a second-hand store.

"It's just been a big rollercoaster for us," she said.

"I can't move on, my husband has tried to move on, he did have a breakdown but he's sort of accepted it now.

"I can't give up on it, in principle, my name's tarnished now here in this town, even people who know me."

She wants the Government to review the legislation, which she said infringes on her civil rights and human rights.

"We can associate with whoever we wish without discrimination," she said.

"What's so bad about these laws is we're classed as guilty, we have to prove our innocence. "Our constitution laws say you're innocent until proven guilty so it just goes against all our rights."

Three applicants have had tattoo parlour licences rejected since the laws were introduced.

Criminologist Terry Goldsworthy said under the tattoo act, the Police Commissioner does not have to release the intelligence that led to licence rejection.

 "You could have a negative decision made and you'll never know the basis of why," he said.

"Even if you appeal, the same thing applies.

"One of the principles of justice is due process and that would entail that you would be able to find out who has made the issues against you, what is the strength of the evidence against you."

The Government said a taskforce will consider the tattoo parlour laws as part of a review of bikie laws and encouraged Ms Bartley to make a submission.

She said although she associated with bikies, she had never committed any crime and should be allowed to clear her name.

"I feel we've been really discriminated against ... this whole case is ridiculous," she said.

"They should be out getting the criminals that these laws are supposed to have been implemented for."





Several crews continue to battle 14ha grass fire in Tallebudgera




MYGC [18/8/15]:




Residents in the Tallebudgera and Reedy Creek areas are being warned there could be smoke haze around the region due to a large grass fire.

Multiple Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews are at the scene of a blaze burning in the vicinity of Wisteria Court, Monday Drive and Brackenfield Court.

The fire has been burning since 2.45am on Tuesday and has affected approximately 14 hectares of land.  

There is no immediate threat to homes.

Residents are advised to close windows and doors and keep medication on hand if suffering from a respiratory illness.

Motorists in the area are reminded to slow down if smoke is over the road and be mindful of emergency services personnel operating in the area.




Failure to act on 200 child protection notices in Tasmania 'unacceptable', children's commissioner says

ABC [18/8/15]:

Tasmania's children's commissioner says it is "unacceptable" that 200 notifications to child protection services in the state's north-west appear to have been ignored.

The State Opposition raised the allegations and said 200 alerts within the last year were never followed up by child protection workers, even though they should have been assessed within one to two days

Most of the cases relate to concerns about children aged under three and unborn babies.

The union representing child protection workers was briefed on the situation last week.

It is unclear exactly how the notifications went unchecked, but chronic staff shortages are being blamed.

Children's commissioner Mark Morrissey told 936 ABC Hobart any problems identified needed to be fixed.

"I think this is probably a good opportunity to look at actually the response to the inquiry into this and to work with all involved as the commissioner advocating for children, to ensure the chances of that occurring again are very slim if not at all," he said.

Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma today ordered an urgent report into the allegations and revealed in Parliament she only learnt of the claims yesterday.

Ms Petrusma said all of the outstanding notifications had now been assessed.

Mr Morrissey said there were opportunities in any inquiry into these matters to make sure notifications were always treated properly.

"If it involves children who are vulnerable and at risk, it's always a concern," he said.

Mr Morrissey said he wanted to work with the Government to find a solution.

"Events like this are unacceptable and we need to all work together to ensure they don't occur again," he said.

He said he was optimistic the problems could be addressed.

"I think this is a great opportunity to acknowledge that the system could be better and I do know there's a whole range of very committed bureaucrats, politicians, community groups sho would like to see some change."






Why is this taking so long?  Is the Queensland government waiting for these people to die?



Yahoo [18/8/15]:

Indigenous Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda will oversee the Queensland government's Stolen Wages Taskforce.

The government has created a $21 million reparation fund to return wages to indigenous workers who were unpaid or underpaid for 70 years from 1904.

The scheme is expected to start early next year.


Elder's stolen wages claim dismissed [Nine MSN -28/5/14]:


An Aboriginal elder's claim for wages he says were stolen by the state has been thrown out of court due to a lack of evidence.

Conrad Yeatman, 74, was seeking $35,000 for wages he said were never paid to him when he worked as a carpenter and labourer in north Queensland in the 1950s.

Under the Aboriginals Preservation and Protection Act 1939 part of his wages were placed in the trust of the superintendent of the Yarrabah mission where he lived.

Mr Yeatman's District Court claim said that while some of his earnings were paid out when he became exempt from the law in 1958, 70 pounds that he earned working on a station was never recovered.

However, Justice David Andrews granted a state bid to put the case on hold permanently after exhaustive searches found almost no financial documentation, and that potential witnesses were dead.

"The defendants have effectively no evidence whatsoever to test these claims," the judge said.

Justice Andrews said it wasn't disputed that Mr Yeatman's savings had been managed by the superintendent but the money could have been withdrawn on his behalf for food or other reasons.

There was some evidence money had been spent on the indigenous teen for clothes, medical expenses and trips.

"I don't accept Mr Yeatman is capable of giving a useful account of the number and amounts of payments made for and on his behalf," the judge said.

Mr Yeatman, whose claim was seen as a test case and was backed by the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU), must also pay the state's legal costs.

His lawyer Charles Massy said it was an immensely disappointing outcome and the team was considering an appeal.

In 2002, former premier Peter Beattie acknowledged that as much as $500 million may have been stolen from Aborigines' wages.

Mr Beattie offered $55 million in compensation, and a reparation scheme subsequently paid out about $35 million to 7000 applicants.

Mr Yeatman was offered the maximum $7,000 reparation but knocked it back as inadequate.




Queensland Council of Unions [29/6/12]:


Aboriginal elders Paul and Arthur Ah Wang still want justice for their stolen wages.

Today, they will join other Indigenous leaders and Townsville Branch President of the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) Les Moffitt for a meeting with Member for Townsville John Hathaway to continue their fight for what they are owed.

"We've sought this meeting with the new Member for Townsville to bring these Indigenous elders before him to share their side of the story," Mr Moffitt said.

"We believe Mr Hathaway is keen to build bridges with the local Indigenous community and hope to better familiarise him with some of the issues of most importance, like stolen wages."

From age 13, twins Paul and Arthur Ah Wang worked together on a pearling lugger off Mackay, free diving to collect pearl shell and doing deckhand duties.

Paul Ah Wang recalls that it was demanding and dangerous work.

"Sometimes the waves were as high as a lamp post," he said.

"If we misbehaved we were often send below deck to bed without dinner."

They are both victims of the Stolen Wages, but one has been paid and the other has not. Paul received just $3000 for his years of labour.

Arthur did not have sufficient documentary evidence for his application despite working alongside his brother – he has received nothing.

The Stolen Wages is a campaign conducted by the Qld Council of Unions to seek the full payment of the promised reparations of $55.4m for wages withheld from Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander workers for decades of the last century.




History Of Stolen Wages And Savings In Queensland [Creative Spirits]






Bernard Tomic wins Cincinnati Masters match against Sergiy Stakhovsky in straight sets




ABC [18/8/15]:




Australia's Bernard Tomic has progressed to the next round of the ATP Masters in Cincinnati with a straight sets win over Sergiy Stakhovsky.

World number 24 Tomic beat the Ukrainian 6-4, 6-3 to set up a second round match with qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov.





UN to contact AT&T (but not United States) over spying claims



Yahoo [18/8/15]:


The United Nations plans to contact AT&T following a report that the telecom giant helped US intelligence wiretap online communications at the world body's headquarters, a spokeswoman said Monday.

The New York Times reported that AT&T, which provides the Internet line to the United Nations in New York, had granted the US National Security Agency access to billions of emails and helped wiretap exchanges.

"There will be contacts with AT&T," said UN spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci.

 "The inviolability of the United Nations is well established under international law, and we expect member states to act accordingly and to respect and protect that inviolability," she told reporters.

The United Nations had previously received assurances from the United States that they were not monitoring UN communications, she said.

Documents dated from 2003 to 2013 provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and reviewed by The New York Times and ProPublica provided the basis for the report.

They described a "highly collaborative" telecom giant that demonstrated an "extreme willingness to help."

The Times said it was unclear whether the programs are still operational in the same way today.

Company spokesman Brad Burns insisted that "we do not provide information to any investigating authorities without a court order or other mandatory process other than if a person's life is in danger and time is of the essence."






UNHCR and IOM expand the South East Asian example of repelling refugees (restricting their right to escape persecution, war and genocide, and if they do manage to flee detaining them in concentration camps) to the Mediterranean [UNHCR Media Release - 18/8/15]






The United States has been obsessed with the movement of refugees in South East Asia (especially their attempts to reach Australia) for a long time. 

Human rights are of scant consideration to the key players in this decades long humanitarian crisis - the priority is to render large numbers of desperate people invisible as they are enslaved, shunted into camps and detention centres, or deported back to danger.

Since the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar has officially declared it is "open for business" -  but only to some.

The urgency to diminish regional sympathy (and following on from that, possible sanctions, along with a co-ordinated rescue and resettlement effort) for  displaced and persecuted persons fleeing this miracle of  rapacious, corporate-style democracy, is obvious.

Hence the more recent conflation of seeking asylum with "trafficking" and "people smuggling", and the media's blackout of any possibility that Australia has a responsibility to act.






... IOM staff told Consulate Medan that UNHCR had been in touch with them about giving status determinations to the Rohingya as early as December 21 but were holding off as per IOM's request. ...









... According to Jim O'Callaghan, Regional Director for Southeast Asia Immigration at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the numbers of irregular migrants residing in Indonesia are an estimated 2000, the highest since around the year 2000 when Afghans and Iraqis streamed through Indonesia en route to Australia. With the calm sea sailing season of July to November imminent, he expects an even larger inflow later this year. There also has been an increase in Pakistanis, O'Callaghan told DepPol/C.


The migrants are generally treated well in Indonesia. [UNHCR's Francis] Teoh, in fact, asserted that that Indonesians are "almost too nice," not deporting irregular migrants who have no claim to protection status. A few return voluntarily but most will not.

Part of this is cultural, not wanting to force the migrants to return home and being very concerned about their human rights, but this is mostly because Indonesian Immigration has a zero budget to deport immigrants. Australia is funding all voluntary repatriations but will not fund deportations from Indonesia.

IOM Indonesia is taking care of many failed asylum seekers already rejected by UNHCR three times, a few for as long as seven years. Because of the surge in numbers and concern that this could be a pull factor, Indonesia recently began keeping migrants in immigration detention centers rather than letting them move about freely in community settings, IOM explained. Detentions centers are now overflowing, IOM said.

The GOI, meanwhile, has an icy relationship with UNHCR. Desra Percaya, Director for International Disarmament and Security at the Foreign Affairs Department, told DepPol/C that UNHCR does "nothing" to resettle refugees elsewhere, which is the cause of the problem. That is why the GOI is now keeping migrants under detention, to force UNHCR to resettle refugees. However, UNHCR explained that it is processing the refugees and resettling them as quickly as possible, limited by how quickly third countries are willing to take refugees.






UNHCR has determined that 269 of the nearly 400 migrants who landed in Aceh in January and February 2009 are Rohingyas who came to Indonesia either directly from Burma or via Bangladesh (ref B). UNHCR has determined that they would face persecution if they are returned to Burma. UNHCR intends to grant them refugee status, Francis Teoh, UNHCR Head of Protection, told Labatt.


IOM is currently using USD 236,000 in Australian funding to care for the Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, but most of this money will be used to repatriate the Bangaladeshis, Hamilton said.

IOM will soon need the USD 280,000 requested from PRM, as it has no other sources of funding at this time. Mission requests that PRM advise on the status of this request.






... UNHCR suggested to us that a Burmese refugee would have a strong asylum claim given the on-going human rights abuses in Burma but they cannot process asylum claims for refugees that do not request it. UNHCR quietly approached the Indonesian government on April 28 for their concurrence to send an UNCHR team to interview the 77 Burmese as possible asylum cases. UNHCR expects the Indonesian government to provide an answer by May 2. Our contact was sensitive to Indonesia's desire to handle the case discreetly rather than be seen by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as commenting on the human rights condition in Burma. (Note: Although our UNHCR contact did not mention Papua, we note that given the GOI's vehement objection to Australia's decision to grant temporary visa's to Papuan asylum seekers, it is likely another reason the GOI will be hesitant to be seen as promoting asylum for the Burmese. End Note). ...






... We also told the Australian delegation that since the conference did not formally discuss the Rohingyas - originally slated to be the key point of the conference - that the AHG [Ad Hoc Group] mechanism should be pursued quickly to address this pressing issue.

Bringing Burma to the table was a major accomplishment, we acknowledged; however, we cannot wait for Burma to change its policy before discussing the Rohingya crisis. This can be discussed without Burma.

Foreign Minister Steven Smith later approached us privately to assure us that Australia would press for the AHG mechanism to "be invoked soon to deal with the Rohingyas."

Australia announced at the conference its contribution of AD300,000 to care for the Rohingyas in Aceh. IOM said the Dutch are promising a similar donation, perhaps conditional upon a U.S. donation. ...






Australia's protected and unaccountable Immigration Minister is destroying this woman because the truth about her rape got out.



Tomorrow - World Humanitarian Day - he will gloat when the Senate legalises murder.




Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [18/8/15]:

Fears are growing for the health of the 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker on Nauru who has been held in isolation since being the victim of a savage sexual assault in May.

Nazinan’s physical and mental health has deteriorated badly since the attack. She has not been eating or drinking for the last few weeks and is often unresponsive even to family members.

Last Friday, (14 August), after falling unconscious, Nazinan was admitted to the Nauru hospital and was re-hydrated. It is reported that she is now too weak to walk unaided.

Yesterday (Monday 17 August), doctors told her family that the high potassium levels in her blood indicate kidney failure and that she at risk of permanent kidney damage.

Today (Tuesday 18 August), doctors again told the family that Nazinan’s kidneys are failing and have warned that already she may require a kidney transplant.

But immigration has done nothing to provide the health care Nazinan needs.

“Since the assault in May, the Immigration department has done everything to cover up the attack. The family was told that Nazinan would be brought to Australia as other sexual assault victims on Nauru have been,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“But a week ago, the department officials changed their minds. Immigration and IHMS officials sent from Canberra told the family that they would not be taken to Australia but would be sent back to the family detention camp on Nauru.

“Even as Nazinan’s health has failed so badly in the last few days, immigration have sat on their hands. They have done nothing to provide the medical assistance she urgently needs. She is still isolated at the IHMS clinic.

“Nazinan is a victim of sexual assault. Now she is a victim of wilful neglect by Australian Immigration and IHMS who are responsible for her. Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton is playing politics with her life. Peter Dutton is guilty of attempting to cover up the scale of sexual abuse on Nauru.

“Nazinan must be urgently medi-vacced to Australia.”




Sydney Morning Herald [25/5/15]:

...The 23-year-old asylum seeker has told Fairfax Media that she was leaving the detention centre on a day release last Saturday when she claims that someone jumped out from behind her, put his hand on her mouth and forcefully pulled down her top.

She said she was then forced to give violent oral sex for over an hour as her assailant bit her breasts and shoulders.

After her attacker fled, the naked, distressed and disorientated woman managed to find a local police unit who put her in the back of their truck.

"They didn't take me back to the police station, they decided to take me with them to watch the fireworks for Nauru's constitution day," she said in a statement.

"It was not until hours later that the police asked for an interpreter".

She claims that she was asked to repeat the story of her assault three times without receiving medical attention.

Last week Nauruan police said that there was no suggestion that anyone had assaulted her.

In a statement they said the woman was found walking in a nearby street naked after failing to return to the the detention centre on Saturday night.

"There is no injury to her or any sign of other physical force or trauma," the Nauru Police Force said.

In an about face last week, the police force have since launched an investigation and promised to "find the person who did this".



Indonesian rescuers say no survivors at wreckage of crashed plane

Reuters [18/8/15]:



All 54 people on board a Trigana Air aircraft were killed in a crash two days ago in Indonesia's Papua province, the latest in a string of aviation disasters in the Southeast Asian archipelago, officials said on Tuesday.

Major-General Heronimus Guru, operations director at Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency, told a news conference in the capital that the passengers' remains were being put into body bags and recovered.

Officials have declined to comment on the cause of Sunday's crash until the results of an investigation by the national transport safety committee, but Guru said the terrain in Indonesia's easternmost province may have been a factor.

"There's a possibility the aircraft hit a peak and then fell into a ravine because the place that it was found is steep," he said.

Treacherous terrain of forest-covered ridges hampered rescuers' efforts to reach the site where the Trigana Air Service ATR 42-300 plane came down.

The aircraft's black box flight recorder, which should provide investigators with some answers, was found in the early afternoon, Transport Ministry spokesman Julius Arivada Barata told Reuters by text message.

There were 44 adult passengers, five children and infants and five crew on the short-haul flight from provincial capital Jayapura south to Oksibil town.

The twin turboprop aircraft was also carrying about $470,000 as part of a village assistance program.

Poor infrastructure in the province means aid money is often flown in by air, said Abu Sofjan, spokesman for the national postal service, four of whose workers were among the passengers.

There was no suggestion the money was somehow linked to the crash.

Five members of the Bintang Highlands district parliament and government were also on board, online news service reported. Reuters was not able to verify the report.

All on board were Indonesian, officials have said.

Officials of Trigana, placed on a European Union list of banned carriers since 2007 over safety or regulatory concerns, were not immediately available to respond to questions from Reuters.

The aircraft made its first flight 27 years ago, the Aviation Safety Network says. Trigana Air Service has a fleet of 14 aircraft, aged 26.6 years on average, according to the database.

Trigana has had 14 serious incidents since it began operations in 1991, online database Aviation Safety Network says. Besides the latest crash, it has written off 10 aircraft.

Indonesia has a patchy aviation record, with other two major crashes in the past year.

In December, an AirAsia flight went down in the Java Sea, killing all 162 aboard. More than 100 people died in June in a crash of a military transport plane.

Indonesia scored poorly on a 2014 safety audit by the U.N. aviation agency largely because its Ministry of Transportation is understaffed, said two sources familiar with the matter, as the country struggles to cope with the rapid expansion of air travel.





Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday expressed condolences to Thailand’s King Phumiphon Adunyadet over the deadly explosion on Bangkok that left 20 people killed. ... [TASS - 18/8/15]




Fighting flared between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels in separate parts of eastern Ukraine overnight, killing at least two Ukrainian soldiers and several civilians, Kiev's military and separatist sources said on Monday.

The clashes, near the port of Mariupol in the southeast and at rebel-held Horlivka, further frayed an increasingly tenuous ceasefire as Ukraine prepared to mark its Independence Day next week.

Kiev accused the separatists of shelling civilians on the outskirts of Mariupol. In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed Kiev for the violence, giving no detail but saying he suspected Ukraine was preparing a new offensive. ... [Reuters - 17/8/15]




UN mission vows full investigation into allegations of abuse by peacekeepers in Central African Republic [Media Release - 17/8/15]




United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the assassination Burundi’s former Army Chief of Staff, Colonel Jean Bikomagu, who was shot dead by unknown assailants in the capital, Bujumbura, on 15 August, the second killing of a senior official in the crisis-torn country this month. ... [Media Release - 17/8/15]




Saudi airstrikes hit several areas across Yemen  [Press TV - 18/8/15]




Saudi-led air strikes against rebels in Yemen have left a "bloody train of civilian death", according to a report from Amnesty International.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have been carrying out air raids against the Houthi militia, loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, since 26 March.

More than 4,000 people have died in the conflict - half of them civilians.   ... [BBC - 18/8/15]





UAE embassy in Yemen occupied by Houthi rebels  [ - 18/8/15]




Afghanistan:  US drone strikes, violence leave 9 dead in Maidan Wardak province  [Pajhwok - 18/8/15]




New Zealand:  Afghan interpreter pleads for family [RNZI - 18/8/15]




... Ashraf, 28, casts worried looks around him as he bolts the door of his spartan home in a crowded Kabul suburb and gets the people-smuggler named Murad, "highly recommended" by a friend, on the phone.

"Meet me in Nimroz (on the Iran border)," Murad says over the crackling line after a lengthy exchange of Islamic greetings.

"The journey to Tehran will take four or five days -- partly by car, partly on foot."

 "I have a handicapped, wheelchair-bound brother," says Ashraf, who allowed Agence France Presse to listen to the conversation but requested that his last name be withheld. 

"For you it’ll cost 2.2 million Toman (U.S.$700); for your brother three million -- because he cannot walk," Murad says.

"What if we are arrested and deported?" Ashraf asks, his tone cagey.

"No, no," retorts Murad.

"I've been deported before and got duped (by the smuggler)," Ashraf insists.

"Listen brother, I give you 100 percent guarantee."

Ashraf, an oil-tanker driver who carries supplies from Kabul to military bases in Taliban-prone provinces, was deported -- first from Indonesia, next from Malaysia -- while attempting to reach Australia in 2012.

Hopeless and broke, his third attempt to flee spotlights the anguished personal choices of Afghan civilians, increasingly caught in the cross-hairs of an ascendant 14-year insurgency. ...  Exodus grows as Afghans escape quagmire of violence [Naharnet - 17/8/15]




Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian at southern Nablus checkpoint [Maan - 18/8/15]




UNRWA staff in Gaza protest over cuts to services [Al Jazeera - 17/8/15]





... “There’s not much that we can do to stop the violence against us,” he told Clinton ...  Hillary meets Boston Black Lives Matter activists  [ - 17/8/15]





The live-in boyfriend of actress Edena Hines has been charged with second-degree murder in her stabbing death, the NYPD said early Monday.

Hines, 33, the step-granddaughter of Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman, was stabbed 16 times in Manhattan Sunday, according to police and the actor's publicist. ... [News Day - 17/8/15]





@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [18/8/15]:  





Baghdad: News agencies/security source: Two persons were killed and 7 wounded as a roadside bomb exploded near popular cafe in Zufaraniya area in southern east of Baghdad today evening.........




Baghdad: News agencies/security source: A person was killed and 5 wounded as a roadside bomb exploded near cars showroom in Nahrawan area in south of Baghdad today evening............




Baghdad: News agencies/security source:3 members of family were killed as unknown armed men attacked their home in Latifiya nahiya in south of Baghdad today noon............



United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria




US Department of Defense [17/8/15]:




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, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Airstrikes in Syria

Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted five airstrikes in Syria:

-- Near Hasakah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Aleppo, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL anti-tank weapon.

-- Near Kobani, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL mortar firing position.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, bomber, fighter, fighter-attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with the government of Iraq:

-- Near Qaim, an airstrike struck an ISIL checkpoint.

-- Near Bayji, two airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit and destroyed nine ISIL vehicles, seven ISIL buildings and three ISIL vehicle bombs.

-- Near Habbaniyah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL mortar systems and an ISIL mortar cache.

-- Near Makhmur, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL weapons cache.

-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL rocket firing position.

-- Near Ramadi, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL building, an ISIL vehicle bomb and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL heavy machine gun firing position and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL light machine gun.

-- Near Tuz, an airstrike destroyed 10 ISIL fighting positions.






… And she was like so many more from that time on

Their lives were all so empty, till they found their chosen one

And their legs were often open

But their minds were always closed

And their hearts were held in fast suburban chains

And the legal pads were yellow, hours long, paypacket lean

And the telex writers clattered where the gunships once had been

But the car parks made me jumpy

And I never stopped the dreams

Or the growing need for speed and novacaine …


'Khe Sanh', Cold Chisel [1978]





ICC should address crimes against the environment: Freeland [Lawyers Weekly - 6/8/15]:


... For instance, the herbicide Agent Orange, used by the US to destroy forests and thus expose guerrilla fighters during the war in Vietnam, devastated vast areas of the countryside and caused severe, long-term health problems among villagers. ...




... To motivate troops to aim for a high body count, competitions were held between units to see who could kill the most. Rewards for the highest tally, displayed on "kill boards" included days off or an extra case of beer. Their commanders meanwhile stood to win rapid promotion.

Very quickly the phrase - "If it's dead and Vietnamese, it's VC" - became a defining dictum of the war and civilian corpses were regularly tallied as slain enemies or Viet Cong.

Civilians, including women and children, were killed for running from soldiers or helicopter gunships that had fired warning shots, or being in a village suspected of sheltering Viet Cong.  ...  Was My Lai just one of many massacres in Vietnam War? [BBC – 28/8/13]




From 'Fugitive Days: Memoirs Of An Antiwar Activist' by Bill Ayers [2001]:


... The debates swam above and around and through us. Viet Nam was becoming for me more than a dot on the map. It was a land with a history and a geography, boundaries and borders like everywhere else, something to look up and locate. In Viet Nam location turned out to be twisty. It included dimensions like hopes and fears, longings and terrors, the personal, the interprsted. The truest map of Viet Nam for Americans would soon rise up as a scribble of psychic scars, a kaleidoscope of crooked footpaths and unbounded horizons. Viet Nam, then, would become a place both out there and a place in here.
Ruthie gave me a book of photographs portraying the daily life of Viet Nam, large color pictures included gray-blue buffalo, heads down, horns splayed out and up, heaving, ponderously in the mud with their bellies sagging into the water, small boys with bamboo sticks perched upon their backs; men swinging huge nets across the emerald fields, harvesting crickets for the birds they sold at market; a line of women clad in conical hats against the sun, knee-deep in water, bowing rythmically to plant the young rice shoots; a crowd of children, black eyes shining in round faces, bursting uproariously into the dirt land chasing chickens; a river of motorbikes coursing throug the old section of Ha Noi, babies perched on handlebars, grandfathers clinging to the rear, everyone going, going. The people leapt off the pages at me, vibrant and alive, some seeming as ancient as dragons, others young as the pale sprouts emerging from the rice paddies, all of them cast in a sentimental light, each the object of my growing romance. I don't know why, but after a while I felt that I knew them each individually. Not true, of course, but they felt hyperreal to me, more than human. And I felt the war escalating, which it really was, being waged in my name personally, by young guys I knew who might have been me. I wanted nothing now except to end the war, to end it now.
Viet Nam was quarantined and no Vietnamese lived in the United States then; anything from Ha Noi was slightly bootleg. Ruthie's book came through Paris, much of Stan's supply of literature, buttons, and books through Vancouver. Stan had taped a copy of quite a different photograph to one of his posters, innocent enough at first, slowly incomprehensible, and suddenly staggering: four American boys kneeling in the sun, bare-chested, smiling broadly, settled in the grass, framed by tropical plants and trees, four Green Beret advisors sent to train the anti-Communist Vietnamese. It was like a familiar snapshot from the yearbook of the swimming team or the soccer squad or the baseball captains - fresh-faced, triumphant kids. One of them looked like Barfly, one like my brother Tim. Hell, one looked like me. But just where the gold cups or cedar plaques ought to have been, just in front, cradled in their hands now, the severed heads of human beings, their dull, unseeing eyes eternally open, their ears cut off, strung into a decorative collar worn around one smiling kid's neck. The head in that kid's lap smiled too, grotesquely, and my head swam. I remembered prep school Marx, the steady unveiling of the inherent barbarism of this system as it turns away from its home base, where the malevolence can assume sometimes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked. Here were guys like me being turned into monsters; here was an America uncovered, without pretense, bare and open on the ground exposed for every passerby to see. I was dizzy. ...



Australian government commemorative events and school essay competition help nation rewrite shameful Vietnam War history [SBS - 18/8/15]




Turkey says coastguards rescue almost 18,300 refugees at sea in one month


Yahoo [18/8/15]:

Turkish coastguards have rescued almost 18,300 migrants in the Aegean Sea in the last month amid a drastic rise in the number attempting the maritime crossing to the EU, the government said on Monday.

Between July 17 and August 17 2015, 18,296 "irregular migrants" were rescued by the Turkish coastguard, the government said in a statement in response to an AFP inquiry.

Of these, 5,276 were rescued in the last week from August 10-17 alone, it added.

It said that since the start of the year, 36,511 migrants had been rescued in the Aegean, meaning more than half of all the crossings in 2015 had been undertaken in the last month alone.


The government said that thanks to the rescue efforts by the Turkish coastguard, the mortality rate for migrants was down sharply on 2014 and well below the international average for such situations.




@cpcatrambone [17/8/15]:   @moas_eu Phoenix has arrived home to Malta today for a week of repairs. 10,000+lives saved at sea to date. #Humanity



@MSF_Sea [17/8/15]:   Yesterday in Pozzallo, @MSF_SICILY welcomed the 201 people assisted by #Phoenix. Their journey continues from there.




Exceptionalist, isolationist Australia sets regional example for treatment of refugees




Which country on this map of  South East Asia is a supposedly a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention?


@forum_asia [18/8/15]:   #Governments have blood on their hands of the #traffic #victims on #boats. #Civilsociety is not blameless either, says Aegile Fernandez






@AedenPillai [18/8/15]:




Aegile Fernandez of @Tenaganita notes that post May migrants crisis in ASEAN, refugees are still coming in (1/2)



Part of what's changed is that the /routes/ have changed: now going to East coast of Malaysia; Andaman Islands (2/3)



Also worth noting that while the sailing season has ended, it will pick up again next few months. (3/4)



So when we ask the question whether the migration crisis in #ASEAN is "new", much less "over", the answer is simple: no, not at all...!(4/4)







@AedenPillai [18/8/15]:   Powerful—Wow. Aegile: Malaysia has caned more than 34 THOUSAND migrants, refugees, trafficking persons.




Indonesians got help after the tsunami. Now they want to help Myanmar's Rohingya refugees [PRI – 17/8/15]:



... Lilianne Fan, international director of the Geutanyoe Foundation for Aceh, which operates in all four of the province’s refugee camps, says it was unlikely humanitarian groups would be able to find new homes for the Rohingya within the one-year time limit.

“In the current context, there are enormous numbers of refugees, more than we’ve seen since the end of World War II,” she says. “There is political sentiment in many countries as well that they don’t want to see enormous numbers of migrants and refugees coming to their countries, so it’s not an easy time.”







18 Rohingyas sentenced for availing medical treatment in Bangladesh [Burma Times - 18/8/15]:



A court in Akyab has sentenced 18 Rohingyas to one and a half year imprisonment for travelling to Bangladesh for medical treatment.

The court passed the sentence of August 5 against the Rohingyas arrested last year for illegally crossing the border.

Rohingyas are generally not welcome in the hospitals of Arakan state which is reserved only for the Buddhist population.

Some Rohingyas admitted to the hospitals have even been murdered by hospital staff. Under such circumstances, Rohingyas avoid the hospitals even in dire need.

The only other option left is to cross the border into Bangladesh. But those crossing the border even for medical treatment run the risk of prosecution by the law if they return to their homes.







Security forces are carrying out a sweeping operation in the Shatkania region of Maungdaw, against what they say are IS militants who crossed over from Bangladesh. In the on going crackdown, many Rohingyas have been arrested on Sunday and Monday.

They have been implicated with Bangladesh SIM cards and accused of keeping in touch with IS militants operating from the neighbouring country. Independent analysts say the terror group does not have a presence in the region. ... [Burma Times - 18/8/15]







An infant child has died in Mamra of Akyab and many more are falling sick in one of the worst hit areas of Arakan state. Three year Noor Nahar died on Saturday. ... [Burma Times - 18/8/15]



Myanmar: Flood victims vulnerable to dengue fever [MSF – 17/8/15]:


... Dengue fever is endemic to Rakhine state and Sagaing region, where thousands of people are currently living in makeshift camps in schools, monasteries and churches following the flooding.

According to the Ministry of Health, between January and July a dengue outbreak already infected 16,000 people nationwide.




And the "emergency reproductive health services"?  Who's on the receiving end of those?:  [Australian Embassy in Myanmar - 17/8/15]:



 The first of the family kits donated by the Australian Government were distributed by World Vision Myanmar on Friday in Magwe Region, including Nan Taw Kyun, Htoo, Hnget Taw Kone, Kyun Ka Ky and Bee Zat Khone.







Magway Region:



... The population of Magway Region is 3,912,711 in 2014. Over 95% the people are Bamar, with very small numbers of minorities such as Chin, Rakhine, Karen, Shan, and others, including a tiny Anglo-Burmese population. During colonial times, this part of Burma had a large Anglo-Burmese population, descended from Western oil workers and their Burmese partners. Approximately 98% of the population is Buddhist.  ...



The Federal Government has given the green light to the world’s biggest floating LNG project after granting environmental approval for the Woodside Petroleum-led Browse consortium’s development. ... [West Australian - 18/8/15]





 The CEO of Australian company Woodside, Mr Peter Coleman, and Australian Ambassador to Myanmar, HE Nicholas Coppel, met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss Woodside's investment in Myanmar on 12 May 2015.  Australian Embassy in Myanmar


Hopes New Zealand will back Papua mission plan

RNZI [18/8/15]:

West Papua is hoping New Zealand will support its call for a fact finding team to be sent to the region to look into human rights abuses by Indonesia.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua is an observer member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and wants similar status at the Pacific Islands Forum.

Papua is on the agenda at the Forum leaders' summit next month and the Movement's secretary general, Octo Mote, says they also want it to set up a fact finding mission.

He says the Movement will seek an independent, multi-disciplinary group.

"So, not only government delegations but really with human rights experts, journalists, so it can really dig into what's happened in West Papua in the past 53 years. Otherwise, we West Papuans are crying for the creeping genocide that's taking place."

Octo Mote says 500,000 Papuans have been killed since Indonesia seized the region in 1962.





Ex-Sri Lanka leader Rajapakse concedes election defeat [Channel News Asia – 18/8/15]





19 killed, 123 hurt as bomb blast rocks Bangkok tourist attraction [Bangkok Post - 17/8/15]





Australia's refugee death camp decimates Manus Island tourism industry [PNG Loop - 18/8/15]



Further allegations of torture on Nauru.





Australian guards jest about shooting refugee ‘c*nts’ and ‘f*ckers’ on Nauru [RT - 14/8/15]






"Failed" Manus refugees threatened with forced return in secretive, unjust process.





... It is expected that up to 10 other “double-negative” asylum seekers could get similar treatment in coming days. The ‘failed’ asylum seekers have been told they can still access financial incentives with IOM if they voluntarily agree to return home. ...





[Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney -14/8/15]





Greens waste question time in both houses



Senate Hansard [17/8/15]:



Senator DI NATALE (Victoria—Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:20): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, Senator Cash. I refer to the recent revelations that my colleague Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was the subject of a deliberate and coordinated surveillance operation by government-contracted Wilson Security over three days during her visit to Nauru in December 2013. These details have recently been corroborated by a whistleblower from Wilson Security, who detailed the highly intrusive operation that saw the senator photographed, followed and spied upon in her hotel room. Given this evidence, Minister, will you now concede that a member of the Senate was spied upon during an official visit and will you outline the nature of the investigation the government will make into this incident, who will conduct this investigation and when this investigation will occur?

Senator CASH (Western Australia—Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:21):  * BLURT BLURT BLURT *  STOP THE BOATS LIES **** BLURT BLURT BLURT ***




House of Representatives [17/8/15]:



Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (14:29): My question is to the Minister for Immigration. Whistleblowers last week reported that up to eight people extensively spied on Senator Hanson-Young over three days, including in her hotel room. On June 11 you said allegations of spying were completely fanciful. But you have been silent since last week's revelations. Can you guarantee to the parliament that, in your portfolio area, no senator or MP has been spied on by government contractors under your government's watch?

Mr DUTTON (Dickson—Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:29): ** BLURT BLURT BLURT *** STOP THE BOATS LIES *****




The American Psychological Association may have banned their members from colluding in torture, but the US military are still torturing folks.



Truthout [23/12/14]:




... Yet Obama did not ban torture in 2009, and has not rescinded it now.

He instead rehabilitated torture with a carefully crafted Executive Order that has received little scrutiny. He demanded, for instance, that interrogation techniques be made to fit the US Army Field Manual, which complies with the Geneva Convention and has prohibited torture since 1956.

But in 2006, revisions were made to the Army Field Manual, in particular through 'Appendix M', which contained interrogation techniques that went far beyond the original Geneva-inspired restrictions of the original version of the manual.

This includes 19 methods of interrogation and the practice of extraordinary rendition.

As pointed out by US psychologist Jeff Kaye who has worked extensively with torture victims, a new UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) review of the manual shows that a wide-range of torture techniques continue to be deployed by the US government, including isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions, chemically-induced psychosis, adjustments of environmental and dietary rules, among others.





They have no intention of stopping.


Huffington Post [13/8/15]:




... Jeb Bush said he believed that the techniques were effective in producing intelligence, but that "now we're in a different environment."

He suggested there may be occasions when brutal interrogations were called for to keep the country safe. ...




These techniques are now being expanded to Australian refugee detention centres.



Nine MSN [14/8/15]:


 Asylum seekers at Nauru have been water-boarded and secured to metal frame beds that are thrown into the air so they crash onto the floor, says an Australian guard at the detention centre.

The unnamed whistleblower, who works for Wilson Security, made the explosive torture allegations in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry examining abuse at the centre.

He gave a detailed explanation of a technique called "zipping".

"This process occurs by using cable ties to secure an asylum seeker to a metal bed with metal bars at the base ... the bed is thrown into the air and injury caused to the asylum seeker as the bed strikes the floor," he said.


The submission alleges guards regularly goaded asylum seekers into reacting and then bashed them


The guard accused his employer of regularly shredding incriminating documents ...

 The guard claims Wilson Security staff are heavily comprised of former Australian and New Zealand soldiers who harbour ill will towards people from countries where they served in war.

"Many Wilson Security staff fought against the asylum seekers they are now guarding," he said.






The United Nations Special Rapportuer on Torture has found that various aspects of Australia’s asylum seeker policies violate the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. ... [Human Rights Law Centre Media Release - 9/3/15]





Antimalaria drugs part of secret program to torture detainees at Guantanamo [Fire Dog Lake - 5/4/15]




SBS [5/5/14]:


Asylum seekers on Manus Island are being given a type of anti-malaria medication that detention centre staff have been warned not to take because of serious side effects.
Centre staff were warned not to take Mefloquine, also known as Lariam, because of adverse health effects.
Salvation Army worker Simon Taylor says in a submission to a Senate inquiry that he is aware asylum seekers have been given the drug despite the warnings to staff.
Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration warns that patients with a history of depression, anxiety disorders or other major psychiatric illness should not be prescribed the drug.
It's common for asylum seekers in detention to suffer depression, post traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.
The US military developed the drug in the 1970s and has curbed its use among troops after it was linked to permanent brain damage, suicide, murder and domestic violence.




Last week Senator Wright tried to stop torture in Australia's name.




Queensland ALP Senator Claire Moore defeated her.



Senate Hansard [11/8/15]:


Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (15:54): I ask that general business notice of motion No. 782 standing in my name for today, relating to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, be taken as a formal motion.

The PRESIDENT: Is there any objection to this motion being taken as formal?

Senator Moore: Yes.

The PRESIDENT: There is an objection.

Senator WRIGHT: I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator WRIGHT: I am greatly concerned that the government has chosen to deny me a chance to put this important motion to expedite the ratification of OPCAT, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. This OPCAT was voluntarily signed up to by an Australian government in 2009, and since then both Labor and coalition governments have inexplicably dragged their feet in its ratification. OPCAT would ensure independent monitoring and reporting on places of detention in Australia, all those places where some of the most overlooked marginalised and powerless people are kept detained: prisoners in jails and police lockups, patients in psychiatric facilities, young people in juvenile detention, and asylum seekers. With very recent examples of deaths in custody and cruel and inhumane treatment of people detained, it is very disappointing that I have been prevented from putting this motion today. It is crucial to fully ratify the protocol and set clear time frames to implement. Australia's own good standing is at stake.

Senator FIFIELD (Victoria—Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (15:55): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator FIFIELD: Just for the sake of accuracy, while the government does not support Senator Wright's motion, it was the opposition that denied formality on this occasion.

Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:56): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator MOORE: Yes, Senator Wright, we did deny formality to this important motion, because it is our longstanding practice. Where we have an issue such as this which is complex and creates a number of complex situations and also determines significant discussions across all states and territories, we believe it is not appropriate to use the notice of motion process for that, and that is our standard practice.




No matter your view on asylum seekers and offshore detention, a prohibition on torture is something we can all support, writes Greens Senator Penny Wright, who will present a motion to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture to Parliament today. ... [Lawyers Weekly - 11/8/15]



Obama administration gives Shell final nod to drill for oil in Arctic




Reuters [17/8/15]:

The Obama administration granted Royal Dutch Shell final clearance on Monday to resume drilling for oil and gas in the environmentally fragile Arctic Ocean for the first time since 2012, a move green groups vowed to fight.

The U.S. Department of the Interior permit allows Shell to drill in the oil-rich Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska. Shell interrupted its drilling program in the region in 2012 after suffering a series of mishaps, including losing control of an enormous rig, from which the Coast Guard had to rescue 18 workers.

Harsh conditions in the Chukchi have discouraged other oil companies from drilling there.

The go-ahead for Shell comes after repairs were completed to the Fennica, an icebreaker the company leases that carries emergency well-plugging equipment. The ship had suffered a gash in its hull after hitting uncharted shoals off southern Alaska.

Damage to the Fennica had stalled Shell's program, which the Interior Department had previously issued a permit for.

Shell obtained the leases in the Chukchi during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Since then it has spent about $7 billion on exploration in the Arctic, though oil production is at least a decade away.

The Arctic is home to what the U.S. government estimates is 20 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas.

Shell's determination to drill there has spawned waves of protests and funding drives by environmentalists who want to protect whales, walruses and polar bears in a vulnerable region that scientists say is changing rapidly due to global warming.

Late last month, 13 Greenpeace activists hanging from a bridge in Oregon temporarily blocked the freshly repaired Fennica from reaching the Pacific Ocean to return to Alaska.

President Barack Obama "must change the course on Arctic drilling set eight years ago by former President George W. Bush and not perpetuate it," said Michael Brune, head of the Sierra Club, the country's oldest environmental group.

The club urged Obama to cancel sales of oil-zone leases scheduled for 2016 and 2017 and to remove the possibility of drilling in the Arctic Ocean.

Later this month, Obama will visit Alaska to speak at a conference on the Arctic and tour areas threatened by climate change.

Curtis Smith, a Shell spokesman, said the company "looks forward to evaluating what could potentially become a national energy resource base."

Shell is not releasing a timetable for its drilling program.






18 August 2015