1. Findings from the United Nations say that Australia has violated refugees’ human rights. Australia has been found guilty of nearly 150 human rights violations according to international law, regarding the indefinite detention of refugees. The UN has ordered that the 46 refugees in question – who have been held in detention for over four years – be released and provided with rehabilitation and compensation.
The UN found that the detention of the refugees was in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and “cumulatively inflicting serious psychological harm”. Australia has 180 days to act upon the recommendations provided by the UN and to say that similar violations will not occur in the future.
2. Hundreds of people have been killed in Syria overnight, in what appears to have been a gas attack. Rebels are claiming that the government used chemical weapons on rebel-held parts of eastern Damascus. Some have estimated that the death toll is between 200 and 500, but others are saying that it is as much as 1,400. The death toll includes several children.
The Syrian Government has denied using chemical weapons during the attack but have taken responsibility for launching the major offensive in rebel-held districts. If this was a gas attack, it would be the most significant use of chemical weapons worldwide in 25 years.
3. In last night’s election debate in which the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader were asked questions from an audience of voters, the soundbite which will undoubtedly be replayed over and over today was the moment when Tony Abbott asked whether the Kevin Rudd would “shut up”.
While the PM was pursuing a line of questioning in regards to paid parental leave costings, Abbott asked the audience in exasperation, “Does this guy ever shut up?” Abbott later defended his comment, saying that Kevin Rudd was being confrontational in his style during the debate as well.
4. According to a Bali Corrections Board document, Schapelle Corby has been recommended for early release but must undertake “moral and religious instruction” if she is granted parole. The document states that Corby “has regretted her action and promised not to commit new law violation” and “promised not to commit any new crime of any kind”.
5. Ethicist Leslie Cannold has resigned from the WikiLeaks political party, and warned that others are likely to follow her lead. She resigned as one of the party’s Victorian Senate candidates yesterday, citing power struggles within the party – as well failure of the party to live up to its values of transparency, accountability and justice.
Cannold said in a statement: “Over the last few weeks those of us resigning and some others have been struggling to make this true.” She further said that the WikiLeaks party was not “a democratically run party that both believes in transparency and accountability, and operates in this way”.
6. A Private Member’s Bill was tabled in the NSW State Parliament yesterday, that if passed will provide legal protection for unborn babies. It’s been called ‘Zoe’s Law’, after Brodie Donegan’s daughter who was stillborn after Ms Donegan was struck by a car on Christmas Day in 2009 when she was eight months pregnant. The law will mean criminal proceedings may be undertaken against anyone who causes grievous bodily harm to a foetus over 20 weeks.
7. One of Queen Elizabeth’s swans has been killed and apparently barbequed, before being stripped of its flesh and dumped on a riverbank near Windsor castle. It is an offence to kill a wild swan in Britain, as they are considered property of the crown. The police are now investigating the theft and killing of the swan.
8. The Australian Electoral Commission has released statistics that show 25 per cent of young people aged 18-24 have failed to enroll to vote in the the upcoming federal election in September. Further, 20 per cent of eligible voters did not cast a ballot at all in the last election. Come on people! Make your views count!
9. UK Paralympian Nathan Stephens, a javelin thrower who has been in a wheelchair for the majority of his life, recently got married and decided to stand up for the first time to dance with his wife.
He said that he had practised dancing around the living room on prosthetic legs for eight months before the wedding, despite the fact that they were painful to use.
He said: “Char has always loved dance. I knew that I wanted to give her something special on the day. I wanted to give her that first dance on the day that every couple wants.”