Monday, November 28, 2005

Man offers to hang death row compatriot

A 65 year old retired Australian has offered to hang the Nguyen Tuong Van, an Australian who was sentenced to death.

If this macabre scenario pushes ahead, could the retiree be charged with murder?

There are a limited number of crimes that the Australian authorities could prosecute even if the acts were conducted on foreign territory.

The ones that come to mind are:
  • Taking sex tours which engage in child sex

  • Fighting with the enemy against Australian armed forces in a war

  • Sending SPAM emails to Australians

Killing of an Australian, under the auspices of a foreign government? I don't know. Can someone enlighten me on this?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mandatory Death Sentence for Australian

Singapore's tough antidrug sentencing laws requires the judge to hand down a death sentence once guilt is established. Mitigating facts are not considered at all. Remonstrations to the Government wouldn't work. PM H.S Lee can't be seen to pressure the Courts over this.

The story of Nguyen Tuong Van is one most tragic, and almost melodramatic, given that he had smuggled heroin to pay off his twin brother's drug related debt. As a country that prides itself on its Confucian values, the President of Singapore could have granted a pardon for the unusual circumstances surrounding the case of a man who took a stupid risk to save his twin brother.

The Australian Government, sensing that there is no sufficient public support for Nguyen, is not pressing for ICJ to intervene, arguing that Singapore is only a signatory to the drug trafficking related treaty, and not the rest.1

Lex Lasry QC makes a point that it was up to Singapore to decide whether it would consent to accept the International Court's jurisdiction. It is up to the Australian government to put the ball in Singapore's court.

Mr Howard doesn't seem to have any principled stand against the use of the death penalty.2

Here is the PM's track record so far:

  1. Supports the death penalty being meted out to the Bali bombers (who were Indonesian)

  2. Given greenlight for the State Liberal parties to use the death penalty as an election policy

  3. Intended to intervene if Schapelle Corby was given the death penalty.

New South Wales Countril for Civil Liberties has a more detailed discussion about John Howard and his position on the death penalty.

1Contrast this to the attention the government Australia had given to Schapelle Corby, who was jailed in Bali on a similar charge.

2There is no death penalty in Australia, and the Australian police were to cooperate with police in other countries up to the point where assistance will lead to a death sentence.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Australia Transports Criminal To Serbia

It has to happen some day. An Australian Permanent Resident since he was two, and who never set foot in Serbia has been deported to Serbia after a series of criminal convictions.

The man, a drug addict, had been jailed for drug-related burglary several times, and the Minister of Immigration has stripped Robert Jovicic of his permanent residency. The Department of Immigration had sent him to Serbia, because they figured Serbia would let him stay there as his parents were born in Serbia. Serbian authorities, after examining his papers, decided that he wasn't entitled to stay. Mr Jovicic is officially stateless.

Unable to speak the language and having run out of money, he has been sleeping at the Australian Embassy's gates.

For the past two cold winter nights in Belgrade, Mr Jovicic has camped outside the Australian embassy in a desperate attempt to be returned to Melbourne.


A lawyer said on the radio that there is basis for Mr Jovicic to be able to reside in Australia. If I remember correctly, the lawyer argued he is substantially an Australian, having integrated into Australian society and way of life [sic]. If the court accepts this argument, then we are looking down at the barrel of another compensation case for wrongful deportation.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Migrants to Australia not using their qualifications

The Australian reports that Rural migration program failing
A federal Government review of its expansion of the general skilled migration program has found that while overall employment among the foreign worker population is high, many are not using their qualifications. [emphasis mine]

I personally know of professional web developers retraining as acupuncturists, mechanical engineers doing handyman's job, electrical engineers driving courier vans. These people find it difficult because
1) there aren't enough opportunities for their kind of work in rural communities
2) Australian employers are generally worried about hiring the wrong kind of people. The more the Government talks about unfair dismissal laws, the worse the perception gets among employers that they can't fire their employees.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 No. , 2005

There's a thread of discussion over at Bruce Schneier's website.

Suprisingly, no one discussed how a legislation like this can be used by a fading political leader to hang on to power. I have seen the effect of routine political sweeps under anti-terror legislation can have political comment in a country. Philip Ruddock said that sedition laws will be reviewed. No one should estimate the ability of a political leader to turn a country into chaos. Witness Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Once the food basket of Africa, Zimbabwe now has man-made famine. It is pure hubris if Australian politicians think that this will never happen in Australia. Having these laws in place gives leaders sufficient self-justification that would have otherwise not happen.

On Radio National, an ex-Federal Judge said that the proposed judicial review only ensures that the process was correct, not to ascertain that the person who was detained was in fact the right person, and the person detained is not entitled to know why he was detained, and is therefore unable to mount a defense. These are sweeping powers. If the Department of Immigration can goof up, so can the police.