Human Rights

Australian aid agencies begin huge budget cuts

Australian aid agencies have begun the first wave of cuts to their overseas projects, as they start to feel the effects of the Abbott Government's foreign aid budget decreases.

The projects being axed are only but the first instalment of a $1 billion slice out of the foreign aid budget which affects four continents.

Plan Australia's program director Dave Husy said, his agency is winding-up or reducing projects in Ethiopia and Cambodia.

World Vision is cutting even deeper by identifying $5.57 million in aid that will cease before the financial year end with more cuts to come, as well as an estimated 1.31 million people losing services.

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Queensland government righting past wrongs against gay community

The Queensland Government is taking steps to right wrongs against gay community by ensuring ’The Gay Panic Defence’ is no longer considered provocation for murder, as well as expunging historical consensual adult homosexual sex convictions which have stood for decades.

Currently, ‘The Gay Panic Defence’ allows defendants to claim they were provoked into killing because of an ‘alleged homosexual advance’, by claiming it drove them into temporary insanity, reducing a murder conviction to just manslaughter.

The defence was last used in 2010 by Jason Andrew Pearce, charged with murdering Wayne Robert Ruks in a Maryborough and found guilty of manslaughter; he was released on parole after only serving four years of a nine year sentence.

However, the Queensland government could not give a timeline on when the changes would be implemented.

Malaysia passes detention without trial laws

The prospect of detention without trial has passed in Malaysia with the introduction of new anti-terror laws similar to those repealed three years ago.

Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, individuals can be detained for up to two years with two-year extensions thereafter.

Several amendments to the legislation were proposed by opposition members, but it voted through unchanged after 10 hours of debate.

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Victoria's peak Muslim body criticises Government over Reclaim Australia rallies

The Islamic Council of Victoria has lashed out against the Federal Government over the nationwide Reclaim Australia rallies.

The main body representing Victoria’s Muslims says it is disappointed the Government has not condemned the protests and that the Government needs to set an ethical example for Australians.

It has further criticised the Federal Government for calling on the Muslim community to speak out against extremism, however itself not condemning racism and bigotry against Muslims.

The Council however has welcomed the Victorian Government’s condemnation of the Reclaim Australia rallies, which were held in 16 cities and towns across Australia on the weekend.

Palestianian refugee camp seige continues as ISIS continue attack

Over 18,000 Palestinian civilians are still trapped inside a refugee camp as intense fighting between Daesh (or Islamic State) militants and local militia continues.

Syrian local defense units, Palestinian militia and Free Syrian fighters are engaging Daesh militants in the streets of Yarmouk who attacked the camp late last week.

The United Nations and PLO says hundred have escaped the fighting over the previous few day from a city now starved of food and clean water.

Yarmouk, a purpose-built city to house Palestinian refugees in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, had been seen as the unofficial capital of the Palestine Exodus and had been home to 150,000 people before the Syrian Civil War began.

Bali Nine face Administrative Court

An Indonesian Administrative Court will decide today if Bali 9 members, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, will be allowed to challenge their planned executions.

Their lawyers have applied to challenge President Joko Widodo’s refusal to grant pardons to any drug smuggler, arguing he failed to give due consideration to individual cases.

But the Government argues the President’s clemency powers are beyond the court’s authority to question.

A positive verdict would force a new trial and potentially make the President reconsider his decision.

The Indonesian government is waiting for all of those listed for execution, beside the Australians, to exhaust all legal avenues of appeal.

Adani under investigation for mining without permission

Adani, the Indian conglomerate planning to construct the huge Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin, is being investigated for conducting mining-related activities in Queensland - without a licence.

Even more incredibly, this is not the first time they've allegedly flouted regulations.

Adani was investigated for mining without a licence two years ago. Those allegations were redeemed in an investigation and the company forced to pay - but nobody knew anything about it.

Palestinians Are Now Members of International Criminal Court

The Palestinians have formally joined the International Criminal Court (ICC), a key step towards being able to pursue Israelis for alleged war crimes. becoming the 123rd member of the ICC, 90 days after they lodged their application.

After a ceremony at The Hague, Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Palestinians seek "justice not vengeance".

However, Israel denounced the move as "political, cynical and hypocritical".

Although Israel has not ratified the Rome Statute, its military and civilian leaders could face charges, if they are believed to have committed crimes on Palestinian territory.

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International funds raised for Syria 'inadequate'

The international community has pledged nearly $4 billion dollars to aid response to the Syrian humanitarian crisis. However UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has indicated the sum only represents half of the required amount.

The secretary general has described the Syrian situation as the “worst humanitarian crisis of our time” and that while donations pledged are generous, is continuing to seek international financial aid. Oxfam on Monday was openly critical of the international response stating the raised funds were "grossly inadequate".

According to UN estimates, the war has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced 11 million. Nearly 4 million Syrians have fled to five neighbouring countries, where their presence is straining resources and host communities.

India supreme court removes internet censorship law

India’s supreme court has reversed a law that sees offensive comments made on social media punishable by jail.

The court found that an amendment to India’s Information Technology Act known as section 66A was unconstitutional and a restriction on freedom of speech.

The decision is the result of a two year campaign lead by Indian free speech advocates who have claimed the law, which can see people jailed up to three years, was in constant abuse by police. They also found that police were more likely to arrest posts that were politically defamatory than others.

Most political parties have welcomed the court’s decision.

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