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Howard Government Decides To Ratify International Criminal Court

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has officially announced the decision of the Federal Cabinet to support the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

The decision was made by the Cabinet at a meeting last night and approved at a meeting of the joint coalition parties this morning.

The decision represents a victory for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and other moderates in the Liberal Party. Downer has promoted the court since 1996. [Read more…]

Media And Courts: The Dilemma – Speech by Justice Michael Kirby

This is the text of a speech delivered by The Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG to a Graduation Ceremony at Southern Cross University.

  • Listen to extracts of Kirby’s speech (2m)

Transcript of speech by Justice Michael Kirby.

Media And Courts – The Dilemma

KirbyI thank the Chancellor and the members of the University for inviting me to participate in this graduation ceremony.

This is my first visit to the University, although the fame of its School of Law and Justice is well established. I am proud to be associated, on the editorial board of the Criminal Law Journal, with Professor Stanley Yeo, a world respected expert in criminal law. I have enjoyed frequent association with Professor Brian Fitzgerald, also with a global reputation on the interface of law and information science. Professor Fitzgerald and Richard Harris have kept me informed of the law programme of this University. They and other members of the Faculty are welcome guests at the High Court in Canberra. [Read more…]

Justice Deformed: New York Times On War And The Constitution

The New York Times has published an editorial severely critical of secret detentions, military tribunals and the role of the courts in upholding the rule of law.

Text of New York Times editorial.

Justice Deformed: War and the Constitution

December 2, 2001

The inconvenient thing about the American system of justice is that we are usually challenged to protect it at the most inopportune moments. Right now the country wants very much to be supportive of the war on terrorism, and is finding it hard to summon up much outrage over military tribunals, secret detentions or the possible mistreatment of immigrants from the Mideast. There is a strong temptation not to notice. That makes it even more important to speak up.

After the brutal attacks of Sept. 11, the Bush administration began building a parallel criminal justice system, decree by decree, largely removed from the ordinary oversight of Congress and the courts. In this shadow system, people can be rounded up by the government and held at undisclosed locations for indefinite periods of time. It is a system that allows the government to conduct warrantless wiretaps of conversations between prisoners and their lawyers, a system in which defendants can be tried and condemned to death by secret military tribunals run according to procedural rules that bear scant resemblance to normal military justice. [Read more…]

Murray Gleeson: A Changing Judiciary

This is the full text of a speech given by Murray Gleeson, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, to the Judicial Conference of Australia, at Uluru.

Text of speech by Murray Gleeson, Chief Justice of the High Court.

GleesonA criticism that is sometimes made of institutions, and large organizations, public and private, is that they have lost their corporate memory. One consequence is waste of effort. A lot of time is spent addressing problems that have arisen, and been solved, before. And a sense of future direction can be difficult to maintain if people do not remember where they have come from. A particular danger to which some lawyers, including some judges, are exposed comes from their propensity to express their approval of a certain state of affairs by declaring it “essential” or “fundamental”. Sometimes this is a reasoned opinion. Sometimes it is mere rhetoric. Declarations of this kind are often made without adequate knowledge of what has gone on in the past, or, what goes on in other places. People may be surprised to learn that what they regard as an indispensable part of the natural order of things is, in truth, a recent development, or may be quite different from the way things are done, by respectable people, elsewhere. They may be alarmed by aspects of current practice which are not really new, but are simply a response to problems that have been around for a long time. A corporate memory can be a useful safeguard against this kind of error. It helps to fill in the context in which changes in the judiciary may be foreseen and evaluated. [Read more…]

Michael Duffy Gives Peter Costello A Lesson In Question Time

This exchange between the Keating government’s Attorney-General, Michael Duffy, and the new Liberal member for Higgins, Peter Costello, is regarded as one of the standout moments in the House of Representatives in 1992.

The incident is a rare example of a demolition job done with style and wit.

Hansard transcript of Peter Costello’s question to Attorney-General Michael Duffy – September 10, 1992.

Mr COSTELLO —My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Was the Director of Public Prosecutions correct when earlier this week he voiced his concern that the Australian Securities Commission will not devote sufficient resources to identification, investigation and prosecution of corporate crime? Is it true that major corporate crime investigations have been halted because of disagreements between the ASC and the DPP? Why has the Attorney-General failed to do anything in the last 12 months to resolve this argument and to ensure that a proper stand is taken on law enforcement against major corporate crime? [Read more…]