Human Rights

Cheney defends CIA interrogators as 'heroes'

The former US vice president, Dick Cheney, has defended brutal interrogation techniques that the CIA used during his time in office.

The comments come just days after the US government released a summary of interrogation techniques used against inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
It described crude torture methods including water-boarding, hanging people for hours from their wrists and locking them in tiny coffin-shaped boxes.

The report questioned the effectiveness of such techniques, which it determined were actually counterproductive for getting actionable intelligence.

Journalists detained in Turkey over raids against 'terrorists network'

Turkish police have raided media outlets linked to a US-based Muslim cleric and detained at least 23 people, including journalists and television producers, in a nationwide operation.

Though a former ally, the cleric Fethullah Gulen has been in an open conflict with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan since a graft investigation targeting the president's inner circle emerged a year ago.

The offices of the country's best-selling Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu television were raided on Sunday, marking an escalation in Erdogan's battle with Gulen.

Australian woman faces death penalty in Malaysia

An Australian mother of four has appeared before a closed court in Malaysia after being arrested at Kuala Lumpur airport with 1.5 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine.

51 year-old Sydney woman Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was stopped at the airport on December 7 as she tried to board a flight to Melbourne.

Anyone with at least 50 grams of methamphetamine is considered a trafficker in Muslim-majority Malaysia, which imposes a mandatory sentence of death by hanging upon conviction.

Ms Pinto Exposto appeared in court on Sunday and has been remanded in custody. She is likely to be officially charged next week.

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Iranian asylum seeker on hunger strike in critical condition

An Iranian asylum seeker is 43 days into a hunger strike as the Immigration Department tries to force him to return voluntarily to Iran or stay in detention indefinitely.

The 33-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is in Wickham Point Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin in a near-critical condition after refusing to eat since November 1st, and having lost 23 kilograms.

Earlier this year, the man was found not to be a refugee by the Refugee Review Tribunal. However, he fears imprisonment or murder if he is sent back to Tehran.

Stella Young dies, aged 32

Prominent disability activist, writer and comedian Stella Young died unexpectedly on Saturday evening.

Young was born with a bone condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta and was not expected to live past her 1st birthday. However, she went on to serve as the editor for the ABC's disability news and opinion website, Ramp Up, and was significantly active as a journalist and writer, making a tremendous contribution to the advocacy for the rights and treatment of people with disabilities.

70 Ethiopians drown en route to better life

At least 70 Ethiopians have drowned after a boat used by smugglers to transport migrants to Yemen sank in the Red Sea in rough weather.

The authorities in Taiz province said on Sunday the small boat sank after encountering high winds and rough seas off al-Makha port.

Every year tens of thousands of migrants from Africa and the Middle East who seek to access wealthier parts of the Middle East and Europe crowd onto often unsafe boats and many drown.

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Hong Kong protests taken off the streets

Leaders of Hong Kong’s Occupy group have surrendered to police.

The three leaders were targeted for their role in developing the protests that the government has deemed illegal. They have not been charged by police.

This move comes after building tension in Hong Kong after recent police clashes with students adding to concerns that the usual non-violence advocated by the group showed signs of fatigue.

Nauru infrastructure provider submits "incomplete contract"

The Nauru detention centre is under fire again after it has been found that the original contract made with infrastructure service provider, Transfield, submitted an incomplete contract. In 2012 Transfield was granted the $24.5 mil contract, despite failing to submit a key document.

Former immigration official and former New South Wales auditor-general Tony Harris said the absence of this document meant Transfield was able to dictate cost and terms of service. It raises concerns over how costly the Nauru detention centre is, and how desperate the government appears to detain and supposedly process asylum seekers.

The current government responded by saying there had been no competition in the tender call out and that the Transfield contract was made under the Gillard government.

Greater effort needed to counter North Korea human rights abuse

Following a call by the United Nations to scrutinise Pyongyang’s political elite for alleged crimes against humanity, a South Korean lawmaker has said that Seoull must make greater efforts to counter North Korea’s human rights abuses.

North Korea, in response to the UN resolution, which was passed last week, has accused the US of cannibalism. Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un was quoted by North Korean State media as saying that the US was the “worst human rights abuser” and that the US “reminds one of the old Roman empire that was buried in history after facing a ruin for coveting prosperity through aggression and wars.”

Reforms proposed after spike in QLD police shootings

And inquest into QLD Police fatalities has been launched from State Coroner’s office. 6 police shootings have been recorded this year and 4 fatalities, a spike in police shootings.

The State Coroner anticipates the inquests could potentially take years, but may be able to make recommendations about police policy during confrontation.

Meanwhile, state police are also conducting a reassessment of training and confrontation procedures.

UPDATE -- Proposed: QLD Police access to mental health checks

QLD Police officers responding to calls of distress may be able to run mental health checks on people involved in disturbances. This is a proposed plan made by Police Commissioner Ian Stewart to address the spike in police shootings and fatalities.