Greens...AFP needs to properly explain the reasons why it pursued the case against Dr Haneef.
MORE than a year after a terrorism charge against him was dropped and more than $8 million later, the Australian Federal Police have finally confirmed they have cleared the Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef as a suspect.
In a short statement released to the media yesterday afternoon, the AFP confirmed it had informed Dr Haneef's solicitor, Rod Hodgson, the federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, and the Home Affairs Minister, Bob Debus, that Dr Haneef was "no longer a person of interest".
Lawyer Rod Hodgson says Dr Haneef will be seeking compensation after the federal inquiry headed by John Clarke QC into the case is over.
"I have spoken to Dr Haneef and he is obviously concerned that his reputation has been impugned over the last 13 months by the AFP continuing to refer to him as a suspect," he said.
"And we have made no secret of the fact that he will be seeking compensation for the immense damage to his career, his family and his reputation."
Dr Haneef was held for 11 days without charge under Australian terrorism laws before being charged on July 14 with "intentionally providing support to a terrorist organisation".
Dr Haneef was granted bail by a Brisbane magistrate on July 16 but just hours later the then immigration minister, Kevin Andrews, cancelled his 457 work visa, ensuring he remained in detention. Dr Haneef returned to India.
In December the full bench of the Federal Court ruled that Dr Haneef was free to return to Australia after it rejected Mr Andrews' appeal against a decision to reinstate his visa.
The court found the law did not allow the Government to revoke a visa on character grounds simply because a person had an "association" with an unsavoury individual.
During a Senate estimates hearing in February the AFP commissioner, Mick Keelty, revealed that more that 600 security officials had worked on the Haneef case and the related British bombings investigation, which cost more than $7.5 million. By May the figure had risen to $8.2 million. The return for the effort was the one charge against Dr Haneef, which was subsequently dropped.
An inquiry into the AFP's handling of the investigation is underway and due to report to the Government on September 30. Mr Keelty has so far refused to make public unclassified sections of the AFP's submission to the inquiry, arguing that he did not have the permission of British police to do so.
This is despite the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation releasing in full its submission saying it had no evidence linking Dr Haneef to a British terrorist plot.
Greens leader Bob Brown says the AFP needs to properly explain the reasons why it pursued the case against Dr Haneef.
He says the judicial inquiry into the matter needs to have wider scope.
"The inquiry needs to go right up the line to the Prime Minister Howard himself to establish how on the basis of no real evidence which would support a prosecution such a hash could be made," he said.
"The explanation needs to say how this could have become such a damaging episode not just for Dr Haneef but for this nation."
Haneef advice ignored by Andrews: lawyers Lawyers for former Gold Coast-based Dr Mohamed Haneef say they have obtained new documents showing former immigration minister Kevin Andrews ignored advice from his own department.
Lawyers for former Gold Coast-based Dr Mohamed Haneef say they have obtained new documents showing former immigration minister Kevin Andrews ignored advice from his own department.
The Indian doctor was arrested at Brisbane Airport in July last year on a terrorism-related charge, but the case against him collapsed.
Lawyer Rod Hodgson says Dr Haneef's legal team has obtained Immigration Department documents through a freedom of information request, and they will be used at the inquiry into the handling of Dr Haneef's case.
He says the papers show Mr Andrews wanted to keep Dr Haneef in Australia at any cost.
"Mr Andrews was told by his own department that granting permission to Dr Haneef to stay in the country would be inconsistent with his earlier decision to cancel Dr Haneef's visa," he said.
Haneef case evidence 'to remain secret' The retired judge who is investigating the case of Dr Mohamed Haneef says much of the evidence he has received will have to remain secret. AFP denied lawyer to Haneef: report Mohamed Haneef's lawyers say the Australian Federal Police (AFP) repeatedly denied their client's request for a lawyer to be present during his first interview.
Push for overhaul of laws on terrorism In a paper in Judicial Review he said that the National Security Information Act "gives the appearance of having been drafted by persons who have little knowledge of the function and processes of a criminal trial". Court denies Lodhi leave to appeal Lodhi claimed the trial did not establish that he had actually decided to carry out a terrorist attack.
Haneef's lawyer says inquiry is weak The inquiry into Australian authorities' handling of the Mohamed Haneef case needs stronger powers to avoid becoming a "toothless tiger", the former terror suspect's lawyer says.
ASIO, police don't trust each other, report finds A LACK of trust between the Australian Federal Police and ASIO has hindered co-operation between the anti-terrorism agencies, a report commissioned after the collapsed prosecution of the Sydney doctor Izhar ul-Haque has found.
Secret policemen's bill: $7.5m Mr McClelland separately ruled out compensating or apologising to the Sydney medical student Izhar Ul-Haque, who a Supreme Court judge said had been kidnapped by ASIO officers. The conduct of ASIO in the case of Mr ul-Haque, who was cleared of terrorism charges, is being reviewed by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Ian Carnell.
Legislation has been rushed through both houses of State Parliament to prevent his release.
A convicted murderer who argued he should be entitled to automatic parole has had his application dismissed by the South Australian Supreme Court.
Shane Andrews was jailed for a shooting outside Aberfoyle Park primary school in Adelaide, in 1991.
He took the SA Government to court because he was sentenced before 1994 under laws not requiring an application to the Parole Board for release.
The Government legislated recently to close the loophole.
Andrews had applied to the Court of Criminal Appeal because he was sentenced before 1994, when laws were changed requiring prisoners sentenced to terms of five years or longer to apply for parole.
The Full Court of the Supreme Court has now ruled that the change puts the intention of the law beyond any doubt.
Quote: Retrospective legislation rushed through parliament to prevent a prisoner being granted parol and to change laws after his/her conviction is wrong. People in jail ought to be given the benefit of the law at the time they were sentenced.
MOST Australians would support clinical trials of cannabis for medical use, a survey has found.
More than 23,000 people over the age of 12 were quizzed about their personal use and attitudes to drugs for the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The nationwide survey found 70 per cent supported legalising cannabis for medical reasons, while approval of clinical trials for cannabis approached 75 per cent.
On alcohol, 80 per cent of Australians also wanted tougher bans on drink driving, but there was far less support for tax hikes.
[If they'd have asked the question on alcohol, whether Australians also wanted warning lables? Then that would be the best answer.]
Respondents over the age of 14 were also asked about personal drug use. About 20 per cent of males and 15 per cent of females had used marijuana in the 12 months before the survey.
Almost 50 per cent of respondents said they would support regulated heroin injecting rooms.
CANNABIS would be sold legally in post offices in packets that warn against its effects under a proposal outlined by the head of a Sydney drug and alcohol clinic.
The director of the alcohol and drug service at St Vincent's Hospital, Alex Wodak, said Australia needed to learn from the tobacco industry and the US Prohibition era in coming to terms with his belief that cannabis use would replace cigarette consumption over the next decade.
"The general principal is that it's not sustainable that we continue to give criminals and corrupt police a monopoly to sell a drug that is soon going to be consumed by more people than tobacco," he said.
"I don't want to see that [industry] fall into the hands of tobacco companies or rapacious businessmen.
"I'd like to see it fall into the hands of the failed business people Australia seems so good at producing or the Australia Post that seems so successful in driving away customers." He made the proposal for taxed and legalised cannabis at the Mardi Grass festival in Nimbin on Sunday, but said he would be happy to express his opinion to the Federal Government.
A spokesman for the Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, said the proposal would not be considered. Experts in the fields of drug and law enforcement yesterday opposed the suggestion, saying there was insufficient evidence that legalisation would not increase harmful use or lead to other law enforcement issues.
"It's really going beyond the evidence to say regulatory control would effectively reduce adverse effects," said a deputy director of the National Drug Research Institute, Simon Lenton.
"We don't know what the effects would be." Dr Wodak believed his idea could reduce cannabis consumption, based on comparisons between consumption in Amsterdam and San Francisco. He said regulated availability would also reduce people's exposure to other illicit drugs when buying the product. His model would make cannabis advertising illegal, ban political donations from the cannabis industry, and demand proof of age on purchase. He chose Australia Post for distribution as it could be regulated and had branches across the country.
"What I'm talking about is not pro-cannabis … it's about reducing cannabis harm."
Question: What happens if some people are alergic to alcohol? Seems to me one drink is social and two can be lethal. Like migrain, vomiting, change mood, violence even death etc...then what, Thcorette? Some people take thc as a party herb to lighten up their life and take them away from the stark harshness of reality of being straight. The herb highly motivates some people and can be very creative. Some use it for painkiller, a bad toothacke, period pain, a hard life. Less than one per cent have been adversely effected by it, like they have pencilin or royal jelly. In other words people are affected by differnt substances like some are by taking alcohol or too much alcohol. Some people wear the hemp clothes. Herbs with multiple uses shouldn't be denied to the people of this planet some say it costs less to produce and has many industrial uses as well as medicinal.
Police arrest 21 at Nimbin's Mardi Grass Police have arrested 21 people on the first day of the annual Mardi Grass festival in Nimbin in northern New South Wales. The three-day event in the town is billed as a cannabis law reform rally.
Australia's cocaine use up, smoking down AUSTRALIANS are smoking fewer cigarettes and less cannabis but using more cocaine, a report shows. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare survey found that from 2004 to 2007, the proportion of people aged 14 and more who smoked daily fell from 17.4 to 16.6 per cent. Recent cannabis use dropped from just more than 11 per cent to just more than 9 per cent.
BOTTLES of alcoholic drinks could soon carry graphic pictures warning of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption as part of the Federal Government's latest series of measures to cut down on under-age and binge drinking.
Alliance tackles drunken violence THE TOLL of alcohol-related violence has reached the point where one in five Australians now say they have been directly affected or know someone who has been affected by this type of violence, a new survey shows.
Labels, not taxes the solution to drunks: lobby group "If we could get large signboards on roadsides warning of the dangers, or failing that a minimum label on bottles and cans warning of the dangers, or both, so that we can try and make the alcoholic drinks that some people are choosing more explanatory, that will have more of an impact than any of the other measures that are being proposed for COAG," he said.
Council for Civil Liberties..These new laws involve a considerable intrusion into the privacy of people's lives.
Queensland Council for Civil Liberties says the public has a lot be concerned about.
Law enforcement bodies have repeatedly called on the Queensland Government to allow telephone interceptions, but the Government has been reluctant to agree without privacy safeguards.
[However law enforcement bodies are not the instigators of a police state the crown is the instigator. These plans are a part of the New World Order or spelt backwoods, OWN.]
Premier Anna Bligh says Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has now agreed to change the necessary federal legislation to allow a Public Interest Monitor to be set up.
She told State Parliament that Queensland has been asking for federal changes since 2003.
"[Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd understands the legal system in Queensland and he has acted to ensure our legitimate concerns about privacy can be addressed, while appropriately supporting law enforcement activities," he said.
"Queensland Government officials will meet their federal counterparts next week to work through the complexities of the relevant state and federal legislation."
She says Queensland will start work immediately to give police and the CMC the phone-tapping powers they want.
Terry O'Gorman from the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties says the public has a lot be concerned about.
"These new laws involve a considerable intrusion into the privacy of people's lives," he said.
"You can have a mobile tap on a particular mobile phone or a particular landline operating for 30 or 60 days straight; there can be an enormous amount of non-criminal conversation.
"Criminal cases will be compromised, police and prosecutors will get access to the private conversations of lawyers and their clients when they are preparing cases," he added.
Cameron Murphy NSW Council for Civil Liberties...a massive reduction in police accountability to the community.
Australia: Concerns of a police state Cameron Murphy...a massive reduction in police accountability to the community. NSW police now have special emergency powers to bug or track people for up to four days without a warrant. Under the biggest shake-up to the state's surveillance laws, police will have up to four days to monitor people before needing to apply retrospectively for an emergency warrant from a Supreme Court judge. NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said the new police powers flowed from an inter-governmental Australian terrorism summit in 2002.
Who stole the boat that was subsequently overloaded, unregistered, uninsured, and unlicensed? Now you don't have to be a policeman to work that out do you?
THE water has always been a big part of Mathew Reynolds life - fisherman, charter operator, diver, water sports, movie shoots and skippering million-dollar cruisers.
But after the Sydney Harbour boat tragedy that killed six of his friends on May 1, the 31-year-old has revealed he will never return to the water again.
Mr Reynolds, whose father Charlie is a charter boat operator at Tweed Heads, said yesterday: "I am sorry for the loss we have all been put through."
The veteran skipper with a clean maritime record was a passenger and not at the helm of the runabout on the tragic night. He hit back at claims that with 14 people on board a boat licensed to carry eight, it was on a joy ride.
"The night in relation to the accident was not a party cruise, we were not out lairising," said Mr Reynolds, who has appeared in maritime safety ads in Queensland.
He said they were on the Harbour to drop off keys and paper work from the staff at Balmain's Commercial Hotel.
Mr Reynolds' girlfriend, mother-of-two Ashlie Ayres, was among those killed in the accident.
Also killed were Lizzie Holder, Stacey Wright, Savannah Holloway, Alex Nikakis and Alex Rumiz.
Police last month sent a brief of evidence on the accident to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Related: Crash skipper named in police cover-up Who stole the boat that was subsequently overloaded, unregistered, uninsured, and unlicensed? Now you don't have to be a policeman to work that out do you?
Harbour crash 'driver' goes to police Police "too busy" to question possible driver of boat in fatal harbour crash. Matthew Reynolds, the 31-year-old originally thought to be at the helm of the runabout which collided with a fishing boat on Sydney Harbour in May, killing six people, attended Tweed Heads Police Station today.
Boat safety laws overhauled The New South Wales Government has announced maritime safety laws will be overhauled, a month after six people died in a boat crash on Sydney Harbour.
Boat tragedy: mystery over driver? Three weeks after the Sydney Harbour tragedy, police have yet to establish who was driving the runabout that collided with a fishing trawler, killing six young people.
Boat driver in fatal crash revealed: cover-up Cocktail barman Percy Small has been named as the man at the wheel of the runabout when it crashed into a larger fishing boat, killing six people. It is believed those on board have also claimed that a third person may have been at the wheel during some point in the journey, News Limited [Limited News] reports. [???] [An attempt now to place someone that was allegedly not drunk at the helm???] Quote: "Witnesses have told police that after Mr Reynolds, a qualified skipper, negotiated the boat from Balmain Wharf he handed the controls over to Mr Small. Mr Small, who holds a 'boating licence' and 'did not appear affected by alcohol', safely took the boat across the harbour to Watsons Bay." Unquote. [NSW Police and Limited News Lies? Seems like they got the all clear??? Now all they have to do is inform the boat owners that granting permission to the crew for the journey won't be a liability???]
Harbour death crash: [who stole the boat?] The father of Matthew Reynolds, [the man originally thought to have stolen the runabout and] the man originally thought to have been at the helm of the runabout at the time of last Thursday's harbour tragedy, says his son knows who was steering the vessel but will not reveal their identity because of "legal implications".
Homicide squad called in over harbour crash THE homicide squad stamped its authority on the investigation into the harbour tragedy yesterday, with an inspection of the boats that smashed into each other in the cold and dark on Thursday morning.
Balmain hotels fill as young mourn pub mates Many of those involved in the accident were from Balmain. Friends gathered, embraced and cried openly on Darling Street, and soon after were intoxicated with alcohol as well as grief. Balmain bar staff described the incident as a pub staff night gone wrong.
A new report indicates that a decline in the number of young Australians voting may be due to an erosion of confidence in the political process. [Not maybe, absolutely!!]
The report from the University of Western Sydney's Whitlam Institute is the first publication from an ongoing research project exploring how young people engage with the democratic process in Australia.
The Institute's director, Eric Sidoti, says young people are now more likely to connect with political causes rather than specific parties.
He says many young people appear to have lost faith in party politics.
"The scepticism ... appears to be driven in part by a sense that the big issues are bigger than any individual government, they are global issues, they lie in the hands of multinational corporations, global institutions," he said.
"It's not going to be enough for Australia to sign the Kyoto protocol, for example."
Quote: Certainly the issues are world politics, for instance look at the related documentary and you may never ever vote again or have any confidence in the government or the crown here in the commonwealth, which is the corporations. The problem does relate to multinational corporations and the power. However it's not just young people it is all the people who want more ice-cream flavours instead of just two nasty flavours in the two party prefered elections. Who goes into and ice-cream shop expecting two flavours only? Voters get a choice, the super wealthy or the wealthy. Not fair!!
Central Land Council: Communities have their say on intervention "The Central Land Council says a survey of people in Central Australian Aboriginal communities has given them a chance to voice their views on the Federal Government's emergency response in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. The research was undertaken in six case study communities – Titjikala, Papunya, Yuendumu, Ali Curung, Kintore and Hermannsburg - between February and June this year with the help of local Aboriginal researchers. It focussed on the main measures of the intervention, including income management, housing repairs and maintenance, the abolition of CDEP, the introduction of store licensing, voluntary child health checks, increased police resources, the introduction of five year leases over communities, the roll out of government business managers and changes to the permit system."
A Northern Beaches private school is getting eight-year-old children to sign good behaviour contracts - including that they won't act in a "huffy and puffy manner".
Year 3 students at Pittwater House Junior School in Collaroy were asked to sign and date contracts agreeing to certain behaviour in the classroom, and to punishments if they misbehaved.
Local MPs said they were concerned about whether it was appropriate for young children to be asked to sign contracts.
But an education expert said the contract idea simply followed a trend to make Australian classrooms more "collaborative and democratic".
The two-page contract reportedly outlined rules preventing children from being unkind to classmates, to stay in certain areas, not share food, and not dramatise issues.
Punishments included missing recess and lunch, and having an incident reported to parents.
Manly MP Mike Baird said: "I'm all for outlining acceptable behaviour, but I don't see a contract as the right way."
Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said children under 10 were unlikely to understand what it meant to sign a contract, and to distinguish between right and wrong.
But Bruce Johnson, a professor of education at the University of South Australia, rejected that.
"I think we underestimate the ability of kids to contribute, eight-year-old kids are quite savvy," he said.
"The fact that a child is eight is asked to contribute to the definition of rules that they are part of [is a good thing]."
Asking children to sign contracts about rules of behaviour was "part of a social-contracting experience where kids and the teachers negotiate what rules apply in a classroom", he said.
"Often the origin of these rules is kids themselves. It's quite a different regime to what happened previously where teachers said: 'These are the rules, and you will follow them or these are the consequences'.
"It's a far more collaborative and, I think, fairer way ... it's not draconian at all."
For children older than 10, Dr Carr-Gregg said contracts could be effective, as long as they were involved in the drafting and the contract was not "handed down like tablets of stone from above".
However, he had concerns with contracts that outlined punishments for any breaches.
"That's a fairly young age to have a contract which has punitive components to it. You're more likely to get somewhere with that age group of you use carrots as opposed to sticks."
Professor Johnson said contracts were commonly used in South Australian schools, and had been for almost 20 years.
"I would think it's part of the broader trend across Australian schools to make them more collaborative and democratic," he said.
Children at Pittwater House Junior School were told not to discuss the contract with their parents. The school denied this.
Contracts have been used previously in other NSW schools, the paper said.
An Education Department spokesman said managing classroom behaviour was a matter for individual schools, and it was not possible for the department to know how each class did this.
The department would also not comment on the specific matter at Pittwater House Junior School because it was a private school, he said.
Pittwater House Junior School has been contacted for comment.
Phuong Ngo was convicted [framed] for the murder of Labor MP John Newman
Framed convicted assassin Phuong Ngo has been ordered to appear in court in October to give evidence as part of a judicial review into his conviction.
Ngo is serving a life sentence for killing Labor MP John Newman outside his Cabramatta home in 1994.
A review of the conviction was ordered earlier this year.
Retired district court judge David Patten has set down three days from the October 8 to hear Ngo's evidence.
Framed convicted assassin returns to court The man [framed], convicted [and held-in-solitary-confinement] for Australia's only political assassination will face court again in a fortnight for another hearing to discuss a judicial review of his case.
Ngo inquiry: focus of Vietnamese witnesses Peter Hastings, QC, for Ngo, said today that if it could be demonstrated that documents were not produced or information not revealed at the time of Ngo's trial, that in itself "should be the basis for assessing the validity of the verdict". It should not even be necessary to go to oral evidence, he said.
Assassination review 'could take weeks' The New South Wales Supreme Court has heard it could take several weeks to conduct a judicial review of the murder conviction over Australia's only political assassination. MP murder conviction 'to be reviewed' A judicial inquiry will be established to review the case of the man convicted of murdering NSW MP John Newman in 1994, a media report says. NSW Chief Justice Jim Spigelman has ordered an inquiry into the conviction of Phuong Ngo for ordering the murder.
Doubts on Newman murder verdict There are doubts about the validity of the conviction of Phuong Ngo, who is serving life in prison for [allegedly] masterminding Australia's first political assassination.
ALMOST 40 years after it became unlawful to pay women less than men for equal work of equal value, women are still earning on average $196 a week less than men.
"To match the average wage a man earns in 12 months in the financial year working full time ordinary hours, a woman has to work an extra 54 days, or a total of 14 weeks, to earn the same,'' Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency director Anna McPhee said.
Today, 54 days after the end of the financial year, has been declared Equal Pay Day by those fighting to end pay inequity.
Ms McPhee's agency is calling on employers to mark the day by holding a pay audit in their workplaces.
She wants employers to ensure they have transparent pay scales and promotion criteria, a meaningful work valuation assessment and flexible work practices for all staff.
The Federal Government has established a parliamentary inquiry into pay equity, which is due to begin soon, and the ACTU is calling for annual reporting of gender pay data by all employers.
Ms McPhee said the 15.6 per cent gender wage gap reveals the systemic discrimination and under-valuation of women's work and believes the inequity hurts not just women but their families and society as a whole.
An Institute of Health and Welfare report has found that the number of young Australians being detained under juvenile justice supervision has reached a four-year-high.
Almost 6,000 young people are now under juvenile justice supervision in Australia each day.
Ninety-two per cent of those being detained are male and almost half are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.
The report says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are nearly 14 times as likely to enter juvenile justice supervision as non-Indigenous young people.
The Institute's Rachel Aalders says the over-representation of Indigenous young people in the juvenile justice system is continuing.
"While only 5 per cent of Australians aged 10-17 are Indigenous, over a third of those who had supervision in 2006-2007 were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander," she said.
Education forum: focus on employability? What about a greater emphasis on social skills? They are things like communication, conflict resolution, self preservation, street wise, vulnerability, self-worth, self presentation, efficacy, mentoring. Because up to three generations of parents don't have social skills to pass on to their children. Corporate interests already reap from the academics but what about the tens of millions spent on the 5 per cent of people who don't make it? The money spent on those people make up a very large sum of taxpayer’s money spent on police, prisons, courts, hospitals, the morgue, and the victim industry. Those 5 per cent of children don't get a life or become a corporate asset if they don't make it!
The Victorian Government is introducing university-style loans for TAFE students, as part of a major shake-up of the system.
The overhaul will guarantee a place for every worker that wants to upgrade their skills.
The program will give diploma and advanced diploma students access to university-style loans to make study more accessible
The four year, $316-million package will create 172,000 new training places.
The Victorian Premier, John Brumby said 900 extra teachers will also be funded.
"This is the largest single investment we've ever made in our VET system," he said.
The funding will go to public, private and community training providers and will make high level qualifications more expensive.
Mary Bluett, the president of the Education Union, said the loans scheme will force tens of thousands of students out of the TAFE sector.
"The bottom line is we have the lowest funded TAFE system in Australia and this is more of this Government pushing the cost on to students and the community rather than to properly fund our TAFE system," she said.
A North Queensland primary school has banned cartwheels and handstands in the playground.
Belgian Gardens State School in Townsville has banned all gymnastics activities during lunch breaks, declaring it dangerous because it has the potential to cause back and neck injuries.
Cali Buschgens, 10, has been reprimanded for cartwheeling on school grounds and her grandmother Val Bryce says the ban is a sad reflection on modern society.
"Sadly I think this is probably linked with the current society where litigation is rife and I feel that schools are probably trying to avoid a child being hurt and an irresponsible mother then trying to sue them for it," she said.
Education Queensland has defended the ban on unsupervised gymnastic activities.
Regional executive director Vicki Baylis says fear of litigation was never a factor in the decision and it was made purely for the students safety.
"The issue around the gymnastics is around the safety of the kids and it was not motivated by any concept of litigation, but certainly [by] that safety and well-being component of those kids when we're talking heads and necks and potentially backs if there were an injury."
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says she is surprised by the decision, and says the school is obviously taking student safety very seriously.
"I'd be interested to hear from this school what prompted them to take this action, because school communities by and large try to meet the standards that parents have in that community," she said.
Serious medical mistakes have caused the deaths of 61 people at western Sydney hospitals over the past two years, according to internal Health Department documents.
The reports, obtained under Freedom of Information, reviewed medical errors at western Sydney hospitals and found most of the avoidable deaths were due to delays in responding to a rapidly deteriorating patient.
In three cases last year, surgical material or instruments were left inside patients.
The Opposition's health spokeswoman, Jillian Skinner, says the findings are disturbing.
"I know that people are dying in hospitals through avoidable causes because this has been partly reported," she said.
"But the extent of this is really shocking and I think Reba Meagher has got some answering to do today."
Professor Steven Boyages from the Sydney West Area Health Service says there are lessons that can be learned from the errors.
"How do we address the issue is the key lesson that we have to take away from these individual cases," he said.
Health Minister Reba Meagher is not commenting on the report's findings.
The Secret Rulers of the World - Present/Past [part 1 of 29] You Tube Video The source of most if not all our woes, revealed (from the present to the past): Connecting the dots through ~3000 years of revisionist human history, spanning from the time of the pharaohs, all the way up to the present dynasties creating the New World Order, in a quest to perfect the enslavement of mankind. From pirates to banksters, to the ruling elite, who run the world's finances, the media and cover both side of nearly every conflict or war: the world may make more sense after watching this.
About the Producer: As a child, she had many arguments between her parents over her father's ring, inscribed with "G", a compass and square. At a later age, years of intensive research led her to the identity , history and plans of a power "so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocking, so complete, so pervasive" that even the known 'leaders' of the world are careful not to speak in "condemnation" of it.
Antiwar Activists Take to the Streets to "Defend Denver" Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill heads to the streets of Denver to report on day one of protests outside of the Democratic National Convention. He speaks to antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, M1 of Dead Prez, Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice and others.
As the Democratic National Convention begins in Denver, we speak to Harper’s publisher Rick MacArthur on his new book You Can’t Be President. MacArthur says that the popular notion that any American can become president only reinforces the “destructive national delusion that widespread, up-from-the-ground, truly popular democracy, both political and economic, really exists in America.” To assume that, he says, is equal to believing that Santa Claus exists.
Democracy Now! goes from the streets to the suites to try and cover one of the first of over 1,200 parties during the Democratic National Convention—this one thrown by AT&T to support Democrats who voted to grant the company immunity for illegal wiretapping of Americans. We also get analysis from Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com.
Withholding welfare payments is unlikely to fix the causes of family dysfunction: Australian Council of Social Service.
Families face losing their welfare for three months if their children continually skip school, under legislation to be introduced to Federal Parliament this week.
Under the Federal Government's proposed scheme, regular school attendance will become a condition for receiving all welfare except the Family Tax Benefit.
If the legislation is passed a pilot scheme at eight schools will begin next year.
This morning Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that the Government made no apologies for the hardline approach.
Mr Rudd says his Government's priority is making sure that all children go to school.
"We think this conditionality - that if individual families are in receipt of income support payments the regular attendance at school by their kids is a necessary precondition - is the right way to go," he said.
"We need, in order to compete with the rest of the world, to boost our current school retention rate from 75 per cent to 90 per cent by 2020, [but] we have real problems of school non-attendance in Indigenous communities and also school non-attendance on the part of certain other kids as well.
"You've got to take a hardline approach."
But welfare authorities have criticised the plan.
Australian Council of Social Service president Lin Hatfield Dodds says there are various reasons why students do not go to school.
She says withholding welfare payments is unlikely to fix the causes of family dysfunction.
"[One issue] is chaos in families' lives," she said.
"Is there anybody around in the morning to help the child get to school?
"If there isn't, and if the family for whatever reason is in a high degree of chaos, then it's unlikely that turning off the income tap to a degree for 12 weeks is going to make any difference in that regard."
Ms Hatfield Dodds says there is no evidence that such a plan would help reduce truancy rates.
"As far as we're aware in the community sector there isn't really any evidence either in Australia or from overseas that involuntary income management actually works on any dimension," she said.
"It's difficult to see how it is going to address the causes of the crisis and chaos in family lives that result in this kind of experience for children."
She says the Government should instead make support programs available to more families.
"So if there's an issue with the parenting, let's wrap some parenting support programs around. If there's alcohol, other drugs, violence - if those things are an issue in the family's life in the adult's life - then let's try and go to the core of those issues.
"With all of these programs there is a strong evidence base for and we know they actually work we know they get results.
"The problem is out there in the community, particularly in areas that are locationally disadvantaged, is that those programs are simply not available to people."
Retailers' warning on welfare card shop spies EMPLOYEES across the country will be at risk of entrapment by government "spies", retailers have warned, under a Federal Government proposal to control fraudulent use of a new welfare debit card.
Abandon NT intervention: Commissioner The Northern Territory's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Tony Fitzgerald says the Federal intervention into remote Aboriginal communities should be abandoned and the legislation underpinning it should be repealed. Income management extended for NT Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has announced income management will be extended for up to a year in four Northern Territory Aboriginal communities.
SUGAR, flour, milk powder and bread account for half the calories consumed by people in remote Aboriginal communities, a groundbreaking study reveals.
Fruit accounts for only 1 per cent of energy consumption, and vegetables - including potatoes and hot chips - just 5 per cent in one community in north-east Arnhem Land.
It is the first study to investigate the link between poverty and inadequate nutrition among Aborigines in the Northern Territory. While it focused on the one unnamed community of 2000 people, it offers a damning insight into a broader crisis in the nutrition of indigenous Australians.
It found that fruit and vegetable consumption was a third that of the wider Australian community. Cheap but poor-quality food heavy in carbohydrates made up two-thirds of the diet. This put adults at risk of obesity-linked diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart attack and compromised children's development, said the study leader, Julie Brimblecombe.
Residents were consuming three times the recommended quantity of salt - a major cause of high blood pressure. The unhealthiest foods were the cheapest, with sugar about 30 cents for 1000 kilojoules versus nearly $10 for broccoli - a result of the high cost of transporting fresh food to remote areas.
Dr Brimblecombe, who presented the results to the Australian Indigenous Women's Health Meeting in Darwin, organised by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said previous research had emphasised the quality of the food supply but had not "looked at how people's socioeconomic circumstances affect food choices. They call [flour and sugar] 'long life' foods - foods that are filling them up and keeping them going … When you've got only a bit of money to spend on food and you don't want your children to go hungry, you don't worry so much about the quality."
The study - based on a questionnaire completed by two-thirds of families and analysis of the food available in the local shop, takeaways and school - excluded healthier traditional foods, an important part of the local diet.
But preliminary analysis indicated that a diet that met government nutrition recommendations was not affordable on the budget available, Dr Brimblecombe said.
Short-term measures - such as distribution of fruit and vegetable hampers - were needed to address the immediate problem.
But structural change was also necessary because people did not want to depend on handouts.
With both major parties supporting the NT Intervention those voters who opposed the Intervention and recognised the many negative features and problems associated with the Intervention were forced to seek some other way of expressing their wrath at both the party political megoliths – Labor and the LCP -- the Tweedledum and Tweedledee who by their actions oppose Aboriginal human rights in the Territory.
To have their voices heard Aboriginal voters and others opposed to the Intervention were forced shout their opposition in silence. They did so by not voting. Throughout the whole of the Territory the average voter turnout of was only two-thirds of those enrolled. Where dissidents did vote, they voted whenever possible for the only political party that had openly supported them in their struggle to stop the intervention – the Greens.
In the electorate of Braitling the Greens polled 3.5% higher than the ALP , and polling booths in Greatorex also showed the vote for the Greens was higher than that for Labor. Both of these electorates cover Aboriginal Town Camps in Alice Springs.
Commentators on the landslide swing against Labor in the Federal Elections have ignored such critical issues as: low turnout at the polls; the high level of informal votes; the dramatic rise in votes attained by the Greens; and swings of up to 18% against Labor in some electorates.
This shows the need for the ALP to drop their support for the NT intervention. Events are being organised around the country to continue the campaign against the Intervention, particularly on September 27, when a national day of action has been called.
Posted August 14th, 2008 by WGAR - Working ...
Indigenous incarceration under scrutiny Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up almost 25 per cent of Australia's prison population, on the most recent figures. This is nearly double the rate identified as a concern by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody more than two decades ago.
Indigenous population hits 500,000 Population mark: An ANU expert says the Indigenous population is back to 1788 levels. New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics say Australia's Indigenous population has reached 500,000, or 2.5 per cent of the total population.
Greens to amend Stolen Gen comp bill The Australian Greens' spokeswoman for Indigenous issues says the party will be amending and re-introducing a Stolen Generations compensation bill to the Senate before the end of the year.
Aboriginal coalition gives Govt health petition A coalition of human rights, health and Aboriginal groups has presented the Government with a set of targets it says are necessary to improve the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians.
Abandon NT intervention: Commissioner The Northern Territory's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Tony Fitzgerald says the Federal intervention into remote Aboriginal communities should be abandoned and the legislation underpinning it should be repealed.
Stolen generation compensation ruled out A FEDERAL parliamentary committee has recommended a "healing" fund be set up to help members of the stolen generations, but knocked back the suggestion of compensation payments.
Budget to roll out new welfare card Welfare plan: The new card will be initially rolled out in NT Indigenous communities. The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) says the Rudd Government's proposed welfare debit card is not the best way to help struggling families.
Police cannot cope with backlash Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, has warned the Federal Government that many indigenous people displaced by the emergency intervention are creating unrest and straining police capacity.
Call for new indigenous body Former ATSIC Commissioner Klynton Wanganeen says he will raise the idea of a new national body to represent indigenous communities at the 2020 Summit. Roxon signs off on Indigenous health pledges Indigenous Australians will have access to the same health services as the rest of the population by 2018, under a Federal Government plan.
Porn ban in Indigenous communities 'racist' The Australian National Adult Retail Association (Eros) says the Federal Government's ban on X-rated pornography in Aboriginal communities is pointless, racist and should be revoked.
Retailers' warning on welfare card shop spies EMPLOYEES across the country will be at risk of entrapment by government "spies", retailers have warned, under a Federal Government proposal to control fraudulent use of a new welfare debit card.
Union urges PM to act on Stolen Generations promise The Australian Education Union (AEU) wants the Federal Government to follow Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations with a significant funding boost for Indigenous education in the Northern Territory.
Union urges PM to act on Stolen Generations promise The Australian Education Union (AEU) wants the Federal Government to follow Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations with a significant funding boost for Indigenous education in the Northern Territory.
IT'S official - Sydney's famous Oxford Street is a homophobia-free zone.
City of Sydney council has declared the Oxford Street neighbourhood and other recognised gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender precincts free of homophobic abuse. The notion was put forward by Councillor Phillip Black this month.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore has made a pledge to collaborate with police, businesses, gay rights organisations and the community to implement the homophobic-free zone, which includes Oxford Street and parts of Darlinghurst, King Street, Newtown, and Erskineville Road, Erskineville.
"Homophobic abuse is often a precursor to violence," Cr Moore told Government News. "While all areas of NSW are technically homophobia-free zones, this strategy recognises the importance and strength of the GLBT community in our city."
IT WAS 8.50am on a Monday, as the students of Merrylands High School milled in the schoolyard for assembly when five boys arrived, uninvited, seeking revenge.
For 10 minutes the teenage gang tormented and terrorised anyone unable to escape its path, smashing 100 windows and leaving a damage bill of almost $27,000.
The story of the rampage can be told today for the first time.
In Parramatta Children's Court on Friday, the five pleaded guilty to charges including assault, affray and causing malicious damage to property arising from the rampage on April 7 this year. Only one of the teenagers appeared in court, with four appearing via video link.
Police facts tendered to the court and obtained detailed how the violence was sparked by a girl - the cousin of one of the gang members - being physically assaulted by a teenage boy.
Seeking vengeance, a 14-year-old from Auburn, two 15-year-olds from Carramar and Merrylands and two 16-year-olds from Merrylands and Seven Hills went to school believing their quarry - a boy called "L" - was a student there.
It was the start of a typical week, with the school community gathering for Monday assembly. More than 700 students and their teachers were in the school quadrangle. While the school has security fencing, the gates were open for students who were running late.
Chaos erupted when the five boys, dressed in jeans and hooded jumpers, joined the assembled student group.
Holding a samurai sword with a 61-centimetre blade, the leader of the boys confronted a male student and punched him in the face with his free hand. His cohorts, armed with baseball bats and a machete, slowly ambled through the lines of students. Two girls were struck on the legs by baseball bats.
A teacher called out the alarm and panic-stricken students were sent to their classrooms as the school went into lockdown.
The sword-wielding leader approached a female student and held the weapon 40centimetres from her throat, demanding to know where "L" was hiding.
"The girl replied: 'Who?"'. She was punched in the face, police said.
A senior teacher named Henry remonstrated with the attacker on the quadrangle.
"You cannot do this," he said. "You have to leave."
The attacker brandished the sheathed sword at the teacher and then swung the weapon. The sword struck the teacher on the left side of his torso. In pain, the teacher grabbed on to the sword with his armpit and tried to wrestle the weapon away from the teenager.
Other gang members came to the aid of their leader and struck the teacher on the head from behind with another weapon.
The teacher fell forward and accidentally unsheathed the sword as the boys stormed off.
From the quadrangle they went to the canteen and confronted the school cleaner, a man called Gary.
The gang leader lifted the sword above his head. "I bet this will hurt you," the teenager screamed, before moving on.
The five boys then entered a two-storey school building. They smashed windows along the entire length of the upstairs and downstairs corridors of the building, sending shards of glass flying into adjoining classrooms. They then stopped outside locked room 33 on the ground floor, and made a decision that threatened to escalate the violence to tragedy.
The gang smashed down the locked door and stormed into the classroom where 20 students and a teacher were sheltering. They began smashing windows as students cowered under their desks and screamed for help.
Suddenly, a senior police officer entered with his baton drawn. He demanded that the assailants drop their weapons. When they refused he drew his gun and again demanded they put the weapons down. The teenage boys slowly dropped their weapons and raised their hands.
It was 9am. Ambulances were rushing to the school. The assaulted teacher was taken to Westmead Hospital with bruising to the back of his head, but was released in the afternoon. Two students, one boy and a girl, were also taken to hospital.
Ambulance NSW said 18 students were treated for "minor injuries, some lacerations, some bruising".
Detective Sergeant Gary James, who headed the police investigation into the lockdown, said the actions of school principal Liliana Mularczyk and her staff had prevented a mass tragedy. The rampage was over.
Police wanted boys tried as adults
NSW Police wanted the five teenagers to be tried as adults but were turned down.
In special circumstances police can request a more severe jail term - in this case up to 10 years for the charges of affray.
The police were deeply disturbed about the school system being used to play out violent rivalry between groups of students and believed the actions of the teenagers deserved special attention.
But The Director of Public Prosecutions referred the matter to the Children's Court. On Friday, Magistrate Gabriel Fleming remanded the boys to appear in Parramatta Children's Court on September 24 for sentencing after they pleaded guilty.
In the Children's Court the maximum sentence on the charge of affray - the most serious levelled against the boys - is three years, compared to up to 10 years for adults.
Dr Fleming permitted 'some' media to cover Friday's hearing, despite protests from the legal representatives of the defendants. She said the matter was in the public interest.
Under laws governing media coverage in the Children's Court, the names of defendants cannot be made public.
Here is the Report of the Twelfth International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA XII) held in London in July 2008.
The Howard League for Penal Reform organized and hosted the conference to develop the case for the abolition of prison and to rethink penal policy. Presentations and discussions addressed the impact of the penal system on prisoners and communities, and the ancillary, fiscal and human costs of pursuing a failed crime control agenda in the 21st Century.
Speakers provided suggestions for alternative non-punitive approaches, including custody and community interventions. Other key themes included the intersection of politics, prisons, and poverty, the role of privatization and capitalism in penal policy, and penal abolition in relation to the media and public perceptions.
Speakers from a variety of countries, including Brazil, Trinidad, Canada, Australia, USA, Belgium, and New Zealand, joined academics from across the United Kingdom, making ICOPA XII a truly international conference. Our Nigerian delegates Ernest Ogbozor and Adamoh Mustapha were blocked by immigration bureaucracy at Lagos despite the efforts both in Nigeria and London.
The conference was aimed at an audience of practitioners, penal abolitionists, policy makers, penal reformers, NGOs, academics and concerned individuals.
The King’s College venue provided accommodations in close proximity to meeting rooms and a large auditorium. The organizational work of the Howard League was appreciated and acknowledged widely.
ICOPA XII ranged over three days, and included four plenary sessions, a variety of workshops and themed panels, a performance, and a boat cruise on the Thames.
· Professor Thomas Mathiesen, University of Oslo · Professor Joe Sim, Liverpool John Moores University · Frances Crook, Director, The Howard League for Penal Reform · Stephen Nathan, Editor, Prison Privatisation Report International · Moazzamm Begg, Former Guantanamo detainee and spokesman for Cageprisoners · Raphael Rowe, Journalist, BBC · Professor David Wilson, Birmingham City University and vice-chair, The Howard League for Penal Reform · Professor Barry Goldson, The University of Liverpool · Professor Harold E. Pepinsky, Indiana University, USA · Professor Phil Scraton PhD, Queen's University, Belfast · Louise Christian, solicitor, Christian Khan, UK · Peter Collins, Prisoner, Author, Activist · Sophie Harkat, Justice for Mohamed Harkat, Canada · Professor Mary Corcoran, Centre for Criminological Research, CESSW · Imran Khan, leading human rights lawyer, UK · Julia Sudbury, Mills College, co-founder, Critical Resistance, board member Justice Now · Pat Magill, Facilitator – Napier (NZ) Pilot City Trust · Brett Collins, Justice Action coordinator
The spirit of the conference was vibrant, with presentations from a variety of speakers, ranging from current and former prisoners to academics, whose texts underpin the abolitionist arguments. Professor Thomas Mathiesen emphasized this balance between activism and academia, which has long characterized ICOPA. He spoke about the importance of fostering power from below, and of maintaining a focus on abolitionist goals.
A recurring theme was deaths in custody, including suicides and killings, phenomena that starkly represent how governments have failed in their duty of care to the whole community. This focus was fitting in a country where the Howard League had recently drawn attention to a 37% increase in suicides in English and Welsh jails between 2006 and 2007.
The scandal referenced in the theme of ICOPA XII was well expressed by Professor David Wilson of Birmingham City University and Chair of the Commission on English Prisons Today, when he told participants that in a private prison contract exposed during an inquest, the company GSL lost one penalty point for a prisoner death compared to the finding of a weapon as being worth 50 penalty points.
The Universal Carceral Colloquium, a set of linked panels within ICOPA XII organized by affiliates of the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, ranged over two days. See below for a full report on the Colloquium.
ICOPA conferences have been held since 1983 across the world every two years in places including Toronto, Nigeria, Poland, US, Spain, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Australia.
Several possible venues were mentioned for ICOPA XIII. These are: north of Ireland/Northern Ireland, Trinidad, and Ottawa.
Tribute to Pauline Campbell
Deborah Coles of Inquest referred to the tragic case of Pauline Campbell. Pauline, a trustee of the Howard League and one of the UK's leading prison campaigners, was scheduled to speak at ICOPA XII but sadly died aged 60 just before the conference took place. Pauline had campaigned for the cause of women in prison after her only daughter, Sarah, died in Styal prison near Manchester aged 18 in January 2003.
Sarah was abandoned by her father when she was four. She was sexually abused over a period of several years as a small child. At age 15, she was raped. When she was 17, her GP committed suicide. She became clinically depressed and was addicted to drugs.
Pauline wrote of Sarah's death: "When Sarah arrived at Styal, she was strip-searched twice, and taken to the segregation/punishment block. The following day, she swallowed a quantity of prescription antidepressant tablets, but then told staff what she had done. Unbelievably, prison staff, including a nurse, walked out of the cell, locked the door and left her alone.
There were 'avoidable delays' before the prison called an ambulance. When paramedics arrived, they were stopped at the gates for eight minutes before being allowed through. Sarah was unconscious when they reached her. She was taken to hospital, and died several hours later without regaining consciousness."
From 2004 onwards, Pauline campaigned by taking direct action against the deaths of women in custody. Whenever a female 'self-inflicted death' occurred, Pauline held a demonstration outside the prison gates - blocking any transportation carrying new prisoners from entering the jail on the basis that it was not a place of safety. Over four years, Pauline conducted 28 demonstrations and was arrested on several occasions, charged with public order offences that never lead to convictions.
Her campaign ended tragically this May, when Pauline's body was found by a passer-by close to Sarah's grave. A section of the conference's final plenary session was dedicated to Pauline's memory and a celebration of her campaigning spirit.
ICOPA XII: The Universal Carceral Colloquium
In the summer of 2007, several Canadian academics affiliated with the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons (JPP) began work on the project that would develop into the Universal Carceral Colloquium, a set of four linked panels within the 12th International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA XII).
The goal of this undertaking was to create a space for focused discussion - within an abolitionist framework - about the changing and expanding dynamics of imprisonment, and about those aspects of the carceral experience that seem to remain constant across geography and time.
In his introduction to the first panel, Professor Robert Gaucher of the University of Ottawa described the central theme of the colloquium as “the relationship between the universal carceral and carceral universals”.
This focus on both change and continuity, and on the relationships between the two, made for a wide-ranging but unified agenda, covering issues from mental health in prisons to the indefinite detention and deportation of non-citizens as part of anti-terrorism agendas.
In keeping with ICOPA traditions, abolitionist principles, and the mandate of the JPP, efforts were made to place the voices, perspectives, and stories of prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families at the centre of the colloquium program. Five of the thirteen papers presented were authored or co-authored by current or former prisoners, or family members of prisoners.
Over the course of the colloquium, the many-layered nature of the carceral archipelago - and its integration with various systems of control and processes of normalization - was demonstrated. Beginning with the first panel, and continuing throughout the colloquium, the participants engaged in a discussion about how penal abolitionism can and should respond to the universal carceral.
Many suggested action along the lines of Mathiesen’s (1974) “Unfinished” theory, aiming at short-term negative reforms: the closing of a particular institution, elimination of a particular policy, or implementation of a specific non-punitive, non-system program.
Discussions of targeted action intersected with broader debates about abolitionist theory and practice, ranging from Justin Piché’s historically-informed presentation on “carceral eradication strategies” to Claire Delisle’s remarks on the need to strategically engage “the rest of the left” in penal abolitionism and Peter Collins’ emphasis on public engagement and civic responsibility.
Another thread running through the panels concerned the net-widening nature of many reform strategies, and the resultant need to re-emphasize the importance of undiluted abolitionism (defined by Thomas Mathiesen in the opening ICOPA plenary as an ideal-type perspective and stance; a way of relating to issues characterized by the will to say “no” to the penal state).
Susan Nagelsen & Charles Huckelbury, Jen Kilty, and Peter Collins drew particular attention to the disastrous consequences of using carceral spaces as sites for mental health ‘treatment - a widespread phenomenon that has led to system expansion, the criminalization of mental health issues, and the proliferation of sub-standard treatment.
At a different end of the spectrum, Mike Larsen and Sophie Harkat addressed the consequences of the trend to use immigration law as a proxy for national security law. The “make it up as you go” reforms that have accompanied such policies have had deleterious consequences for the rights of detainees and their families, and allowed the state to extend its capacity to imprison well beyond the traditional confines of the criminal justice system.
In light of the proven failure of imprisonment and the demonstrable consequences of carceral ‘tinkering’, the call for a renewed commitment to abolitionism - in spirit and practice - was echoed throughout the colloquium.
ICOPA Session D: What is the Universal Carceral?
The first panel opened the colloquium by presenting several case studies in the expansion of the carceral archipelago, each built around the experiences of a prisoner or group of prisoners. Sarah Lamble delivered a paper written by Peter Collins, who is presently incarcerated in Canada.
Peter’s work situated two contemporary horror stories regarding the management of mental health in Canadian prisons within a historical framework, illustrating the long-standing collusion between professionals from the fields of health and punishment.
Mike Larsen presented a vignette of a new development in Canadian immigration penalty - a special prison built to confine immigration security subjects, managed by a contractual arrangement between border security and correctional agencies. Mike raised the question of how abolitionist theory and practice can and should adapt to such exceptional spaces of confinement without presenting the ‘traditional’ system as a ‘lesser evil’ alternative, thereby strengthening it.
Claire Delisle told the story of Douglas Gary Freeman, a man who was recently extradited from Canada to face trial in the United States for acts allegedly committed 30 years ago. In reviewing his case, his resistance, and the movement that mobilized to support him, Claire raised questions about the role of transnational cooperation and extradition policy in the operation of penal regimes, and highlighted the thinly-veiled vendettas and political agendas that underpin the legal system. Combined, the three papers illustrated the multi-faceted, pernicious, and inherently political nature of imprisonment as a technology of control.
ICOPA Session E: Experiences of the Universal Carceral I
The first of two panels focusing on the experiences of prisoners and their families, this session brought together themes of health in prison, acts of resistance and agency, and gendered experiences of confinement.
Susan Nagelsen delivered a paper co-authored with Charles Huckelbury, who has served thirty-four consecutive years in an American prison. Their paper concerned the systemic denial of medical treatment and provision of substandard care to prisoners, and the public health repercussions this has on their communities of origin.
They proposed the outpatient transfer of infectious persons with nonviolent drug convictions into private sector treatment programs as a stepping-stone towards abolition. Jen Kilty presented the findings of a study of self-harming behaviours of federally and provincially sentenced women prisoners in Canada.
She convincingly argued that these self-harming behaviours represent acts of individual agency and resistance; strategic attempts to express emotion and negotiate identity.
By framing such acts as forms of bio or psy-citizenship, a strong case is made for community-based alternatives to incarceration. Mary Corcoran discussed the ‘contrary states’ of confinement experienced by women political prisoners during the Northern Ireland conflict.
Within the prison, their dual status as ‘women prisoners’ and ‘political prisoners’ led to an overlapping of forms of pastoral power and techniques of management geared towards subversives. Coupled with the dynamics of inside-outside relationships between the prisoners and their movements, this layering of multiple forms of penal power presented considerable ramifications for individual and collective acts of resistance, suggesting that resistance itself is a fragmented activity.
ICOPA Session I: Experiences of the Universal Carceral II
The second panel based on the exploration of carceral experience provided a particularly powerful illustration of the link between the Universal Carceral and Carceral Universals. The session began with a reading, by Phil Scraton, of a paper authored by Craig W.J. Minogue, an Australian prisoner. In this short, provocative piece, Craig argued that the standard definition of a ‘political prisoner’ is narrow and unrealistic. In place of a definition based on incarceration resulting from oppositional political activity, Craig proposed a conceptualization of political imprisonment based on conduct during and after imprisonment - and on the state’s response to such conduct.
Such a framing reveals a great many ‘political’ prisoners, providing a basis for wider engagement by progressive movements in prison issues. Erin McCuaig presented detailed findings from a study of the experiences of female partners of imprisoned men, particularly as regards visitation.
Framing her analysis in relation to the literature on structural and interpersonal stigma, Erin discussed the dehumanizing effects of the carceral on the families of prisoners and reviewed the methods of resistance adopted by her respondents in the face of the carceral.
Erin’s research focused on the traditional criminal justice system, but her findings were echoed in the remarks of the final panelist, Sophie Harkat, who is herself the female spouse of Mohamed Harkat, one of Canada’s “Secret Trial Five”.
While Mohamed’s imprisonment was pursuant to immigration law, and had nothing to do with criminal justice, Sophie related the same acts of dehumanization and resistance reviewed by Erin, highlighting some of the universal aspects of the carceral experience.
Sophie’s own presentation recounted her ongoing struggle as the spouse and, through the imposition of unprecedented bail conditions, jailer of a husband subject to a secretive and exceptional form of state power. She discussed the negotiation of multiple roles (wife, guard, prisoner, activist), and the importance of maintaining forward momentum in an abolitionist campaign.
ICOPA Session J: Abolition and the Universal Carceral
The closing panel combined conceptual discussion with a review of the history of abolitionism (and ICOPA) and the presentation of strategies and campaigns informed by abolitionist thought.
Justin Piché opened with a review of the net-widening nature of the universal carceral, and the “proliferation and normalization of detention as a disposal tactic” utilized by the late modern state. He argued that ongoing trends towards mass incarceration, coupled with the creation of new spaces of - and excuses for - confinement and the co-optation of many well-intentioned reforms, presents a need to re-examine and renew penal abolitionism.
Justin concluded by emphasizing the continued importance of Mathiesen’s strategic framework, which uses short-term negative reforms in pursuit of the long-term abolitionist goal.
Hal Pepinsky then presented a short, thought-provoking paper based on his recent work on Peacemaking Criminology. He argued that we need to move away from the study of crime, criminality, and just responses, and toward the study of violence, informed by peacemaking goals such as the creation of safety and enhancement of ontological security.
In short, he proposed that abolitionist thought move ‘beyond justice’.
Sophie Harkat then spoke about the campaign against security certificates in Canada, and the multiple methods and targets of this particular abolitionist movement. Her presentation emphasized the importance of changing public opinion by providing counter-narratives to state discourse and - most importantly - continuously underscoring the humanity of incarcerated persons. These activities require media-savvy abolitionists, operating alongside both a grassroots movement and a committed legal team.
While Sophie’s husband Mohamed remains subject to a security certificate, her campaign has won major victories in the court of public opinion and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Brett Collins of Justice Action, Australia, made the final presentation. He reviewed several successful ongoing and past campaigns undertaken by Justice Action, drawing out lessons for other organizations. Brett also emphasized the potential combination of media engagement and direct action, and highlighted the importance of a pro-active attitude in the face of the carceral state.
He closed by discussing the importance of taking on ‘tough cases’ and bringing a non-punitive alternative agenda to the most controversial situations.
Art in Prisons
The importance of art was a recurring theme. Charlie Ryder of the Anne Peaker Centre described it. When I was in I kept a scrapbook in which I kept poems, short stories, paintings and drawings. During exercise I would put my headphones on, and dance and run and imagine I was playing lacrosse around the prison yard. This form of creative resistance was really important to me while the prison system was using violence and hatred. The arts were keeping me focused on being at peace with myself.
The arts create a space where you are treated with respect, compassion and where you can work through the trauma and abuse you have experienced or you can highlight the barbaric treatment of some of our most vulnerable people.
As part of the job I do, I regularly answer letters to prisoners enquiring about funding arts and I have been very moved at the difference it makes to their lives. Through hard work, patient application and imagination they are able to produce beautiful work.
Media Release July 24, 2008
Professor calls for prison moratorium
At the opening of the International Conference on Penal Abolition ICOPA X11 hosted by The Howard League for Penal Reform in Kings College London yesterday, Professor Joe Sim of Liverpool John Moores University said: “There must be an end to the building of new prisons in the UK and the use of academia to justify the expansion of the penal system.”
Thomas Mathiesen of Oslo University said: “Abolitionism is a moral stance to say No to the expansion of the system. It is not about refining the system. It requires the fostering of power from below, effectively acknowledging prisoners as stakeholders in the outcomes.”
The conference will continue over the next two days with other speakers including Moazzam Begg ex Guantanamo detainee, Professor Phil Scraton of Queens University, Professor Julia Sudbury of Mills College California, and Stephen Nathan of Prison Privatisation Report International.
The evening of the opening day featured the play “CUTS” dedicated to Pauline Campbell written by Antoinette Moses about the imprisonment of mentally ill women who self harm.
Contact: Andrew Neilson, 07918 681 094
Media Release July 25, 2008
Indefinite detention without trial exposed
On the second day of the ICOPA conference at King's College London, former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg said that "the repressive measures that have accompanied the War on Terror disproportionately target refugees and asylum seekers. This continues unabated".
Wife of Ottawa detainee Mohamed Harkat, Sophie Harkat, exposed the Canadian security certificate process, which has controlled her husband without charge or trial for five years. She said: "this is unacceptable in a democratic society that claims to respect the rule of law".
Professor Julia Sudbury of Mills College, California, and co-founder of Critical Resistance, said "penal abolition is becoming a mass movement, along the lines of the anti-slavery and anti-death penalty movements".
The conference will continue today with a focus on the role of privatization and capitalism in penal policy. Speakers will include Stephen Nathan, Editor of Prison Privatization Report International, Brett Collins of Justice Action, Australia, and Richard Garside, from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, King's College London.
A media conference will be held following ICOPA, at noon on Saturday July 26, at the Waterloo Campus, Franklin-Wilkins Building, Stamford Street, King's College, London.
On the third day of the ICOPA conference at King’s College, London, Stephen Nathan of Prison Privatisation Report International said: “the penal system is growing without pause with governments throwing money to private corporations whilst refusing to take responsibility for the outcomes.
There is no evaluation or public accountability in the process, with those in charge adopting the typical business practice of expansion and corporate growth.”
The last plenary session returned to the dominating issue of deaths in custody, and specifically to those in the UK.
“Deaths in custody are prison violence in the form of suicides and killings, and show the total lack of responsibility by prison authorities” said leading human rights lawyer Imran Khan.
“The isolation and blocking of the support of prisoners’ families was indefensible” said Frances Crook of the Howard League for Penal Reform when presenting a dedication to the life and work of Pauline Campbell.
Not all our material was expressed. One letter by Dr Bob Johnson, Consultant Psychiatrist for many years dealing with the highest security UK prisoners wrote: SUPPRESSING PENAL DEBATE
“Nick Herbert the Conservative Shadow Justice Minister unthinkingly condemns a conference he did not attend, and whose title he lazily misquotes – not prison abolition but PENAL abolition – “Abolishing jails is lunacy, The Guardian, 28 July 2008”. The rest of us should be deeply troubled by three ominous facts reported there – (1) rising prisoner numbers relate, not to increasing crime rates (which are falling here), but to widening wealth gaps between rich and poor (which are not).
More equitable nations imprison fewer of their citizens. (2) The current murder rate in prisons is double the national average. (3) The £139 billion we recently spent on the self-styled Criminal Justice System vastly exceeds the cost of crime. A growing (privatised) Penal Industrial Complex thrives at our expense.
Worse – every criminal I have examined since 1991 was motivated by revenge – for some earlier injustice or abuse. Remove this revenge and crime evaporates. Retribution – a euphemism for statutory revenge – could not be better designed to exacerbate criminality, which it does. Herbert’s ill-digested clichés serve only to delay a sensible adult debate that becomes increasingly urgent with every chilling prison statistic.”
ICOPA X11 RESOLUTIONS
First Resolution of the 12th International Conference on Penal Abolition
Guiding Principles adopted:
1. In planning conferences, ICOPA has as a guiding principle, the objective to reach the widest number of activist groups, people who experience discrimination, youth and recipients of the carceral, and encourage their participation as organizers, keynote speakers and presenters.
2. ICOPA is committed to having a regular space in the plenary at the end of each day, in order to reflect on the themes of the conference.
3. ICOPA is committed to including a range of voices and strives for a balance between personal testimony, the arts, activism and academic presentations.
4. ICOPA is committed to mobilizing the delegates to participate in action such as marches, prison visits, and other types of concrete gestures to promote the aims of the conference.
5. Among its abolitionist objectives, ICOPA seeks to connect with local pressing issues, in order to bring support to those concerned and maintain relevance.
Second Resolution of the 12th International Conference on Penal Abolition
Be it resolved:
We reject the use of incarceration and other penal measures to deal with community problems. We call on governments to dismantle the prison industrial complex, and we support the development and implementation of non-punitive community-based alternatives.
In light of the Dennis Ferguson case (note), ICOPA XII calls on the Queensland government to accept the Circles of Support/JA Mentoring offer made by Justice Action, as an alternative to imprisoning him. This measure will satisfy the need of the community to feel and be safe. (note: accused of child sex offences in Australia)
Third Resolution of the 12th International Conference on Penal Abolition
ICOPA X11 gives its ongoing support to building The Robson Collection housed in the Napier (NZ) Public Library, as proposed by the late Ruth Morris at ICOPA 1X in Toronto. ICOPA will assist where possible with speakers, books and expertise.
The Conference supports the statement of the former Social Development Council of New Zealand that the city of Napier with under 60,000 citizens is an ideal pilot city to show cooperation in “developing its community and not prisons.”
QLD judge-only trials 'not the answer' Civil libertarian Terry O'Gorman says judge-only trials are not the answer. Laws to go to Parliament next week will allow the prosecution or the defence to apply for a trial to be heard by a judge-only in some complex or notorious cases.
Indigenous incarceration under scrutiny Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up almost 25 per cent of Australia's prison population, on the most recent figures. This is nearly double the rate identified as a concern by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody more than two decades ago.
Christmas Island like a prison: Amnesty Our refugee coordinator Graham Thom, along with our national director Claire Mallinson and board vice president Jim Sharp, has just visited the new Christmas Island detention centre.
Haneef's lawyer wants secret dossier released A lawyer representing former Gold Coast-based doctor Mohamed Haneef says a secret dossier used to cancel his client's visa contained no incriminating evidence against his client. Australia to sign up to anti-torture treaty Australian complicity in War Crimes in the Middle East, Torture, Rendition. In Australia Draconian Laws, Indefinite Solitary Confinement of prisoners at places like the HRMU at Goulburn Correctional Centre.
Australia: Concerns of a police state Cameron Murphy NSW Council for Civil Liberties...a massive reduction in police accountability to the community. NSW police now have special emergency powers to bug or track people for up to four days without a warrant. Doctor urges mandatory detention inquiry A psychiatrist who has treated immigration detainees says former government ministers should be called to account for the policy of mandatory detention.
UN Torture Committee Blasts Australia In its report on Australia, the Torture Committee was critical of Australia's prisons, counter-terrorism laws, mandatory immigration detention and of the way Australian officials have ignored torture and mistreatment overseas in places like Abu Ghraib.
LINE IN SAND ON MENTAL HEALTH “Patients under state control have had their social interaction reduced, and right to smoke removed. These vulnerable and isolated citizens, to whom the state owes a special obligation, are extremely distressed and have asked for community assistance,” said JA spokesperson Michael Poynder.
We owe prisoners more than jail Prisons are too important to be left to jailers, for the simple reason that the standard prison magnifies social problems. It is a congregation of people with an accumu–lation of risk factors for crime. Haneef inquiry could be waste of time and money: lawyer The lawyer for former Gold Coast [scapegoat] terrorism suspect Dr Mohamed Haneef says he is worried a Government-ordered inquiry into the case will be a waste of time and money.
Push for overhaul of laws on terrorism Anti-terrorism laws are just 'state sanctioned terrorism' aimed at 'innocent people' and using them as 'scapegoats' for Australia's 'alleged war on terror'. These laws were meant to project 'fear' in the community that we somehow need to be protected so that the government can wage war on innocent people for resources around the world unchallenged.
The documentary addresses penal abolition as a concept and issues surrounding that policy. It presents the 11th International Conference on Penal Abolition held in Tasmania, Australia over the 9-11th February 2006.