Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘ICCPR

Australia cops criticism…

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… and rightly so.  While my personal page is off-line as the topic is considered sub judice currently, naturally the two articles I discuss here are close to my heart.

Australia has again been highlighted as the only developed democracy without national human rights law.   Perhaps if we did have such a law, my family and I wouldn’t be in the position we are currently in.  It has been interesting, as I discovered neither the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 nor the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 are scheduled to or declared under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act.  I was not aware of this until last week and I am horrified.  I hope all Australians are horrified at such a discovery.

The second article was written by Malcolm Fraser.  Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister of Australia from November 1975 for seven years.  I remember him well, as I had recently arrived in Australia in February 1974.  Malcolm has been involved in humanitarian work for many years.  He points out the regression in Australia’s policies since that time 35 years ago when we welcomed Vietnamese refugees.  That community is now, he tells us, nearly a quarter of a million strong and contribute greatly to Australia.  What changed?

What I have learnt about Civil and Human Rights in Australia over the past year has been enlightening: yet not in a way I would have ever expected.  It has been a sad year for me personally, of course, but I cannot consider only my personal situation.  I am horrified when I consider the possible extrapolation of my situation across the country.  I am still haunted by the images of the Christmas Island tragedy and the Christmas Island detention conditions.

It is time: time Australians stood up for what is right.

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Airport security – where DO we draw the line?

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This is an interesting problem. In case you can’t be bothered clicking on that link, a woman claims she was asked to remove and show her breast prosthesis during an “enhanced” pat-down.  The article explains an “enhanced” pat-down includes a “frisk” of one’s private parts.

On the face of it, I can understand we need security measures to take into account any prosthesis a passenger may have.  After all, should one be of an inclination to do so, one could hide all sorts of things in a prosthetic leg, arm or breast.  However, perhaps we can do it a little more discretely and with some compassion for the person.

This whole “enhanced” thing seems to be creating a bit of a stir.  Let’s look at another report, which has resulted in legal action.

“As the TSA agent was frisking plaintiff, the agent pulled the plaintiff’s blouse completely down, exposing plaintiffs’ breasts to everyone in the area,” the lawsuit said.

This was during “extended search procedures”.  Enhanced, extended – whatever!  She was 23 – I’m sure the TSA agent would not have been as keen to pull open my blouse (age has some benefits, I see).

Both of the above situations were in the USA, but how long before Australia follows the leader?  Besides, airline security really is an international responsibility these days – can we have different policies and procedures in different countries and still have effective security?

While no, I do not want to be in a plane that explodes half way across the Atlantic or the Pacific and yes, I do expect our governments to provide suitable security measures to prevent such an event, I do not expect to be embarrassed or humiliated during a screening process.  Surely frisking of private parts can be reserved for those where a real suspicion exists (based on initial investigations of a less intrusive nature), not just for the average traveller.  Is there any age limit on this particular type of frisking is one question that springs to mind.  What about children travelling unaccompanied?  Are they to be subjected to this?

Where do we draw the line?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if at some point a class action was launched in relation to airport security based on civil rights enshrined in the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights.  That covenant protects the individual, for example: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.”  Being picked out at random for an extended or enhanced (take your pick) search is surely arbitrary?  It is definitely interference with one’s privacy, although it could be argued not unlawful interference as the search is “required” by law.

Where do we draw the line?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 21, 2010 at 1:35 am