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Magna Carta's spotlight on today's political arbitrariness

16 June 2015 | Binoy Kampmark

Magna CartaIt was far from democratic and arose from circumstances of pure opportunism, but the Magna Carta was created as a break on arbitrary rule and power. Therefore contemporary moves to undermine such principles as the rule of law are prescient. Australia's parliament commemorates its birthday even as it extends the reach of national security laws and endorses a draconian refugee policy.

Italian perspective on Australia's asylum seeker shame

11 June 2015 | Anna Martin

Asylum seeker woman pounds on doorOver the last few months, I have been completing a Masters in International Criminal Law at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute in Turin, Italy. Over the last two weeks, our classes revolved around human rights — always a bit of a cringeworthy topic when one comes from Australia. Certainly Italy's attitude and approach to asylum seekers puts Australia's to shame.

South China Sea dispute exposes soft Australia

09 June 2015 | Fatima Measham

Map of South China SeaThe trajectory of the conflict over territory in the South China Sea does not look good. There is no reason to believe that the United States would relinquish its position as an Asia-Pacific security power. There is also no reason to believe that China would slow or halt its island-building and militarisation of the South China Sea. Against this ponderous milieu, it is a pity that Australia has again been exposed as a lightweight.

Australia wants to know nothing about asylum seekers' torture history

02 June 2015 | Justin Glyn

Man being torturedInternational law regards torture as a matter of ius cogens, something which can never be justified. If one were serious about finding out about genuine refugee claims, enquiring about any torture at the hands of the people an asylum seeker is fleeing would surely be near the top of the list of cogent questions. But Australia has ceased to ask asylum seekers about any history of torture.

Europe rejects the 'Australian Solution'

14 May 2015 | Nikolas Feith Tan

Migrants seeking refuge in LampedusaSince the drowning of around 800 people on 19 April, politicians in the UK, France, Italy and Denmark have been suggesting that the European Union adopt our hardline asylum policy. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has advised the EU that 'only way you can stop the deaths is in fact to stop the boats'. But last week, the EU denied it was in talks with Australia, saying 'the Australian model can never be a model for us'.

Raul Castro's diplomatic love match with Pope Francis

12 May 2015 | Antonio Castillo

Pope Francis and Raul CastroThey spoke in Spanish and there was genuine Latin American warmness between them during Sunday's historic 55 minute meeting at the Vatican. They will meet again when Francis visits Cuba in September. Castro promised Francis that he would be attending every one of his masses, reminding him that he is a Jesuit alumnus: 'I'm as Jesuit as the Pope'.

Scots' UK election command good for democracy and compassion

06 May 2015 | Duncan MacLaren

Nicola SturgeonIt has certainly been an extraordinary election where, for once, Scotland has played a central role, especially in the realm of new ideas. It will be good for democracy in the UK if the predicted SNP landslide occurs, to put progressive policies ahead of party advantage and ensure the neo-liberals in Cameron's team are stopped from unleashing the same chaos as Mr Abbott in Australia, and compassion, care for the most vulnerable and services such as the NHS remaining in public hands return to centre stage again.

Australia's friendship with Indonesia is bruised but should not break

30 April 2015 | Emily Mitchell

Stained Indonesian flagToday, the relationship between Indonesia and Australia — the 'most important relationship' espoused by our Prime Minister — is aching. People are saying we must boycott Bali, that we must not go to Indonesia. While I understand these sentiments, I do not think this is the answer. To stay within our borders would only maintain the status quo. Instead we must embrace our neighbours and rekindle our friendship.

A wedding and an execution

28 April 2015 | Andrew Hamilton

Gun barrelThe last days of Andrew Chan spoke more powerfully than words can about the meaning of execution. On Monday he married Febyanti Herewila. On Tuesday he was taken out and shot. In the wedding service he may have heard the words, 'What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.' A few hours later men had sundered man from both wife and life.

Indonesia shows its ugly side with regressive executions

28 April 2015 | Pat Walsh

President Joko Widodo speaks with CNN's Christiane AmanpourIndonesia is a country of great promise with a significant, maybe crucial, contribution to make to our troubled world. As a very large, pluralist, Muslim-majority democracy it offers a template for other societies in transition. President SBY was acutely aware of this opportunity and through his democracy forums and other initiatives did much to re-brand Indonesia in this positive light. All this good work is being undone by the anal, small-town thinking the executions represent.

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