Archive

Archive for October, 2009

‘Girl whose life got lost in red tape’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 18 October 2009)

October 18, 2009 Leave a comment

familyThis is clear indication of how under resourced the NSW Department of Community Services (DOCS) is, and the human consequences are extremely costly, especially for the victims of child abuse.  In this case, the victim is a nine-year old girl who died from starvation under her parents’ watch.

Girl whose life got lost in red tape‘ (Sydney Morning Herald, 18 October 2009)

Ebony was a prisoner in a house infested with cockroaches, mice and spiders, strewn with rubbish, and reeking of human waste.

DOCS personnel were made aware of this family, and classified the girl as ‘high risk’.  However, the case was in a mire of red tape.

That report was made by the Department of Housing, which was concerned about the filthy state of the Matraville house in which the family lived.

DOCS assessed the risk to the children to be ”high”, but its concerns were lost in a mire of red tape and seeming disinterest.

That report was made by the Department of Housing, which was concerned about the filthy state of the Matraville house in which the family lived.  DOCS assessed the risk to the children to be ”high”, but its concerns were lost in a mire of red tape and seeming disinterest.

That report was made by the Department of Housing, which was concerned about the filthy state of the Matraville house in which the family lived.

DOCS assessed the risk to the children to be ”high”, but its concerns were lost in a mire of red tape and seeming disinterest.

‘Brides in rush to registry’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 18 October 2009)

October 18, 2009 2 comments

familyOne of the social trend in Australia is the increasing secularisation of our society, and this trend has strong impact on the institution of marriage.  The following article pose some statistics that illustrate such trend.

‘Brides in rush to registry’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 18 October 2009)

CIVIL wedding ceremonies are outstripping religious weddings, with brides and grooms keener than ever to get hitched away from church.

Figures show civil ceremonies are now almost twice as popular as church weddings, confirming a trend that began in 2002.

Civil ceremonies overtook religious ceremonies then, with 17,613 church services compared with 18,192 non-church weddings.

So far this year there have been 27,350 marriages in NSW, 17,469 conducted by civil celebrants.

Religion is losing its place as a mean of formalising marriages.  Another statistics is also interesting, the number of people of going through second and third marriages.  According to Anne Hollands from Relationship Australia,

Also, a lot of marriages are second and third marriages, and people are less likely to splash out as much.

CIVIL wedding ceremonies are outstripping religious weddings, with brides and grooms keener than ever to get hitched away from church.
Figures show civil ceremonies are now almost twice as popular as church weddings, confirming a trend that began in 2002.
Civil ceremonies overtook religious ceremonies then, with 17,613 church services compared with 18,192 non-church weddings.
So far this year there have been 27,350 marriages in NSW, 17,469 conducted by civil celebrantsCIVIL wedding ceremonies are outstripping religious weddings, with brides and grooms keener than ever to get hitched away from church.
Figures show civil ceremonies are now almost twice as popular as church weddings, confirming a trend that began in 2002.
Civil ceremonies overtook religious ceremonies then, with 17,613 church services compared with 18,192 non-church weddings.
So far this year there have been 27,350 marriages in NSW, 17,469 conducted by civil celebrants.
Categories: family law Tags: ,

‘Congo troops ‘massacred refugees” (BBC News, 16 October 2009)

October 16, 2009 Leave a comment

united nationsThe latest development from the Democratic Republic of Congo underlies the enormous dilemma facing the current UN peacekeeping operation there, the MONUC (Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies en RD Congo).  It shows the difficulties facing a UN peacekeeping command tasked with keeping an impossible ceasefire agreement.  In particular, it shows the impossible choices facing the United Nations, one being a neutral observer where offensive action is clearly needed, or participating in a conflict where there are no innocent faction.

First of all, let us familiarise ourselves with the geography of Democratic Republic of Congo.  The Democratic Republic of Congo is a large country in the centre of Africa.  The conflict zone in question is in a province called North Kivu.  See map below.

Map of North Kivu (with MSF camps indicated)

Click here for my earlier post on the hellish humanitarian disaster in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  (‘LRA accused of DR Congo massacre’ (Al-Jazeera, 26 June 2009))

Congo troops ‘massacred refugees’‘ (BBC News, 16 October, 2009)

Army troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo shot and beat to death about 50 Rwandans in April and burnt their refugee camp, a UN investigator says.
Philip Alston said about 40 women were also abducted and it prompted a revenge massacre by Rwandan Hutu militia.
His report said military operations this year carried out by the army supported by UN peacekeepers in the east had produced catastrophic results.

Army troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo shot and beat to death about 50 Rwandans in April and burnt their refugee camp, a UN investigator says.

Philip Alston said about 40 women were also abducted and it prompted a revenge massacre by Rwandan Hutu militia.

His report said military operations this year carried out by the army supported by UN peacekeepers in the east had produced catastrophic results.

The exact details of these human rights violations by the government soldiers of DRC is pretty hallowing.

Some 40 women were abducted from the camp. A small group of 10 who escaped described being gang-raped, and had severe injuries – some had chunks of their breasts hacked off,” AFP news agency quotes him as saying.

How did the MONUC get into this morally dubious situation?  The truth is that the rebel factions in North Kivu are a major source of instability in the region.  One of these rebel factions is the FDLR (Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda), consisting of Hutu extremists who perpetrated the Rwandan genocide in 1994.  Ever since they were kicked out of Rwanda by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, they have committed numerous atrocities in North and South Kivu, including the systematic use of rape as a weapon.  Several key FDLR leaders are wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for crimes against humanity committed during 1994.  The International Criminal Court also has arrest warrants for several FDLR leaders for recent war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In a nutshell, they are no saints.  However, in a country that has known no peace for the last three decades, the violations by the government soldiers against Hutu civilians in refugee camps in North Kivu province should come as no surprise.  It is notable that the current Rwandan government, many of whom consider themselves victims of the 1994 genocide, have already decided that the DRC government is preferable to the FDLR, and have cooperated jointly with the DRC army to dismantle the FDLR faction.

Critics of the United Nations Mission in Congo  need to at least empathise with the fact that the MONUC is caught between a rock and a hard place.

‘Gacaca Justice – Rwanda’ (Journeyman Pictures, October 2009)

October 11, 2009 Leave a comment

united nationsThis is a youtube clip of a documentary about the Gacaca communal tribunals that have been used as a complementary alternative to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Gacaca Justice – Rwanda‘ (Journeyman Pictures, October 2009)

In the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the United Nations set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to deal with alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.  The ICTR has been criticised for its inefficiency and prolonged process.  As President Kagame argued, if the ICTR is used exclusively to deal with alleged perpetrators, it would take one hundred years to sort out all the alleged offence committed during the Rwandan genocide.

This is not to say that the ICTR has not achieved anything.  In fact the ICTR has been relatively effective in dealing the major alleged perpetrators.  A most recent example of this would be the arrest of Idelphonse Nizeyimana, an intelligence officer in the former Rwandan Army and second in command of an elite military school in Rwanda before the country exploded in genocide in 1994, who allegedly orchestrated the massacre of civilians during the 1994 genocide.  (See ‘Major Suspect in Genocide of Rwandans Is Captured‘ (New York Times, 6 October 2009).)

However, it became obvious to many in Rwanda that a complementary alternative is needed to deal with the numerous minor participant in the genocide.  It needs to be cost-effective, and serve as a vehicle of national reconciliation.  The Gacaca communal tribunal was set up with such purposes in mind.

This documentary film, distributed by Journeyman Pictures in October 2009, gives a positive portrayal of the Gacaca communal tribunal.  It allows the audience the chance to see how a Gacaca communal tribunal session operates.  In the screened session, the tribunal is held outdoor.  The accused can plead for forgiveness from the victims and thus receive reduced sentence.  The focus is much more than about punishment.  It is as much about communal reconciliation.

Critics would be right to point out that the Gacaca communal tribunal, as portrayed in this documentary, violates many principles of due process.  However, when you consider the lack of resources within post-genocide Rwanda, the Gacaca communal tribunal has been quite an achievement.

‘Khmer Rouge case judge ‘biased” (BBC News, 10 October 2009)

October 11, 2009 Leave a comment

united nationsThis timely news article highlights the challenges involved in trying war crimes and crimes against humanity in a courtroom.  The case involves the special hybrid court in Cambodia, which was set up after the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Cambodia in the 90s.

Khmer Rouge case judge ‘biased’‘ (BBC News, 10 October 2009)

Lawyers for Cambodia’s former foreign minister have called for the removal of the judge investigating his role in the Khmer Rouge era.
Ieng Sary is charged with crimes against humanity for his part in the deaths of as many as two million people in the late 1970s.
His defence team claims the judge at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, Marcel Lemonde, is biased.
The controversy is the latest in a series of problems to hit the tribunal.

Lawyers for Cambodia’s former foreign minister have called for the removal of the judge investigating his role in the Khmer Rouge era.

Ieng Sary is charged with crimes against humanity for his part in the deaths of as many as two million people in the late 1970s.

His defence team claims the judge at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, Marcel Lemonde, is biased.

The controversy is the latest in a series of problems to hit the tribunal.

One of the characteristic of natural justice is that the accused is given a fair trial and is seen to be given a fair trial, by a judge that is seen to be unbiased.  While it might be possible that the defendant’s legal team is simply trying to discredit the international criminal tribunal in Cambodia, it does highlight the inherent difficulty of trying alleged war criminals in a hostile environment.  There is an understandable amount of public pressure on the judges to convict the defendants in these types of cases.  This is partly due to the horrendous nature of the alleged offence.  Adding to that is the enormous amount of public expectations on the court to redeem the country from its traumatized past.  In such context, it is quite a challenging task to provide defendants in international criminal tribunals a fair trial.