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HUMAN RIGHTS

The dignity of the human person, created in the likeness of God, is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching. In practice we see that the dignity and rights of many people in Australia and around the world are violated or disrespected. We are challenged to work for societies in which human rights are respected, protected and promoted.

Churches slam government over treatment of young offenders
Melbourne's Catholic and Anglican archbishops have condemned the Andrews government's imprisonment of teenagers in "the harshest of adult prison settings", warning that teen offenders' welfare and chances of rehabilitation are at risk, writes Richard Willingham for The Age.  

NZ minister defends record on institutional child abuse
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley will make no universal apology for the abuse of children in state care saying there is no evidence it was systemic.
There would be no independent inquiry either, she told Radio New Zealand’s Kim Hill, arguing it would only retraumatise victims.  

But does the state know how to look after children?
The children who are now adults point out that, by ignoring key recommendations from the confidential listening service into the abuse, the Government is not attending to ‘what works’ for them, writes science researcher Jess Berentson-Shaw.  

Philippines church faces religious persecution
Religious persecution is being experienced in the Philippines despite it being a predominantly Christian country, according to the head of the bishops’ conference. "Persecution is not limited to violence," conference president Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said. "Bashing in social media where truth is made to appear as a lie and a lie appears to be true is another form of persecution."  

Pacific leaders raise West Papua at the UN
Leaders of six Pacific Island nations have highlighted concern about West Papua while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly.  

Peaceful expression criminalised in Malaysia
Rights group says Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government is tightening the noose on anyone expressing political discontent.  

New Zealand’s homeless living in cars and garages
New Zealand was once a pioneer of the social welfare state, but now one in every 100 New Zealanders is homeless.  

Yes, I’m a real Māori
I guess you could say things have changed since that day, back in 1961, when a teacher hit me across the head whilst proclaiming, for all to hear, “You’re not on the pā now, hori!” I was 11 years old and had just arrived at boarding school from a small rural village on the East Coast of the North Island, writes Ian Taylor who is best known internationally for developing computer animation and such sports graphics as ball tracking in cricket.  

Māori dying too young
Māori living on the East Coast have a “perilous state of health”, a report commissioned by the local iwi has found.  

Philippines church, rights groups denounce farmer killings
Philippines church and human rights groups are calling for an investigation into the September 3 killing of four farmers on land claimed by the rural poor and the military in Nueva Ecija province. Unidentified gunmen shot the farmers who were resting inside a hut in the middle of the disputed piece of land.  

The dark history of Israel’s stolen babies
In July, Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s minister for national security, became the first government official to admit that hundreds of babies had been stolen from their mothers in the years immediately following Israel's creation in 1948. In truth, the number is more likely to be in the thousands.  

Sri Lankan religious leaders call for release of Tamil political prisoners
Catholic, Christian and Buddhist religious leaders have joined human rights activists, politicians and relatives of political prisoners in urging the government to release political prisoners arrested under anti-terror laws during the country's civil war.

Political prisoners were arrested on suspicion of having links with the rebel group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), during the war or soon after it ended in 2009.  

First peoples in India urged to unite for their rights
India's indigenous people should come together and fight for their socio-economic development, urged church leaders and activists at a gathering marking the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples in New Delhi.  

How to talk about female Olympians without being a regressive creep - a handy guide
Want to avoid gaffes when reporting on female athletes? Do write about the sports they did. Don't bring their makeup, very small shorts and marital status into it, writes Lindy West for the Guardian.  

The white man in that photo
That white man in the photo is, perhaps, the third hero of that night in 1968. His name was Peter Norman, from Australia, a country that had strict apartheid laws, almost as strict as South Africa. There was tension and protests in the streets of Australia following heavy restrictions on non-white immigration and discriminatory laws against aboriginal people, some of which consisted of forced adoptions of native children to white families.  

Boat tragedy highlights Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingyas
The deaths of more than 20 Rohingyas in a boating accident have again put the focus on Myanmar's ill treatment of the Muslim minority. Nine children were among the 21 confirmed dead from the accident that occurred in rough seas off the coast of Rakhine state April 19.  

Ethical fashion companies in New Zealand and Australia revealed
Three years have passed since the Rana Plaza building collapse which killed 1136 garment workers. The event sparked the collective conscience of retailers and consumers alike about unsafe working conditions within fashion supply chains. So have companies improved their practices since? Baptist World Aid assessed 87 Australian and Kiwi fashion brands to find out. 

See also

Oscar Romero: Option for the poor
Oscar Romero was murdered while celebrating the Eucharist on 24 March 1980. No one was ever prosecuted. Romero was once asked to explain that strange phrase, "option for the poor". He replied: "I offer you this by way of example. A building is on fire and you’re watching it burn, standing and wondering if everyone is safe. Then someone tells you that your mother and your sister are inside that building. Your attitude changes completely. You’re frantic; your mother and sister are burning and you’d do anything to rescue them even at the cost of getting charred. That’s what it means to be truly committed..." 

In West Papua people wonder whose side church is on
Indigenous continue fight for self-determination despite sideways glance from institutional church leaders – Grassroots church leaders have actively helped seek solutions to Papua's decadeslong conflict, while the institutional churches remain largely silent. 

Companies involved in offshore detention frozen out in Sydney
A growing campaign to stop institutions from doing business with companies that abuse human rights has claimed a major scalp. Max Chalmers reports for New Matilda.  

Ruddock appointment thumbs nose at human rights
If Phillip Ruddock's appointment as Australia's first special envoy to the United Nations on Human Rights is about demonstrating the worthlessness of current international human rights protection structures (and the consequent hollowness of their criticisms of Australia), it is a rather short sighted one. Appointing a person with a weak record of upholding human rights in the area where Australia itself is weakest sends the unmistakable signal that Australia is no longer committed to the human rights project, writes Justin Glyn SJ for Eureka Street.  

Myanmar landslide shines harsh spotlight on jade industry
Church leaders have raised concerns about environmentally damaging practices and human dignity in Myanmar’s notorious multibillion-dollar jade mining industry, after a landslide killed more than 100 people in northern Kachin state.  

Turning tax and welfare on its head
Paying universal transfers acknowledges that every individual has the same unconditional right – to a basic income sufficient for them to live in dignity. The Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) provides this.  ß

New Zealand’s zionist diplomacy on the security council
The reprehensible draft ‘resolution’ circulated by New Zealand, the present chair of the UN Security Council, is so blatantly biased against the Palestinian people that it proffers the correct diplomatic protocol to mind its own business, particularly as NZ is an on- the-record apologist for Israel, writes Vacy Vlazna for The Palestine Chronicle.  

Rowling hands the sorcerer’s stone to the occupation
Harry Potter’s creator’s comments on the campaign for cultural engagement added insult to the injury of the Palestinian plight, writes Lamis Andoni for Al Jazeera.  

Malaysia: stop treating criticism as a crime
The space for public debate and free speech in Malaysia is rapidly narrowing, as the government resorts to criminal laws to silence its critics and quell public discontent.  

Australia's Grace inspires world leaders to vow to eradicate slavery
A pledge to eradicate slavery by 2020 has been signed at an extraordinary gathering of world religious leaders in the Vatican.

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Melissa Parke Breaks Labor Ranks To Back BDS Campaign Against Israel
One of the growing stars of the Labor left has taken aim at critics of the 'Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions Campaign'. Max Chalmers reports for New Matilda.

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The gangs of Iraq
Marauding pro-government militias are using the fight against the Islamic State as a pretext to destroy Sunni Arab communities across the country, writes Tirana Hassan for Human Rights Watch.

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Israel 'pushing for religious warfare'
Palestinian minister urges international community to protect Jerusalem's al-Aqsa, which has been gripped by clashes.

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SodaStream to close West Bank Factory targeted by boycotts in ScarJo Split
SodaStream has announced plans to close a West Bank factory that has been the target of calls for consumers to boycott the Israeli company's products. Bloomberg's Elliot Gotkine reports on 'In the Loop'.

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Developments in civil society through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching
Treasurer Joe Hockey questions the legitimacy of the sense of entitlement of a number of Australians, particularly those receiving income support. So who do we think is entitled to what, on what basis, and from whom? asks Sandie Cornish in an address to Catholic Social Services Australia.



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Unfinished business in the Timor Sea
The 15th anniversary, marked recently, of East Timor's historic vote for independence, highlights Australia's unfinished business in the Timor Sea and Timor's ongoing struggle to become a true sovereign nation - complete with sea boundaries.

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Women in Timor-Leste
The Alola Foundation was established in 2001 by Kirsty Sword Gusmao, the former First Lady of Timor-Leste. The initial focus of the Alola Foundation was to raise awareness and campaign against sexual and gender-based violence in Timor-Leste. The Foundation has grown to include a wider range of programs that assist the women and children of Timor-Leste - programs such as advocacy, economic empowerment, education and literacy, and maternal and child health.

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How the UN works with T-L women
A video from United Nations Women presents stories on how the organisation has supported women in Timor-Leste to rebuild themselves and work toward participation in peacebuilding in their country.

Watch the video here 

Jesuit scholastics in Timor-Leste
Young Jesuits in Timor-Leste are helping to build this new nation through education.

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Zamboanga siege: rebuilding communities
A year after a battle in the southern Philippines city of Zamboanga left 140 dead and more than 120,000 people displaced, 50,000 of those are still without homes. The fighting lasted three weeks and completely destroyed more than 10,000 homes.

Watch the video here 

Yazidi plight continues while world looks on
The international spotlight has moved away from the plight of the Yazidis – many of whom remain stranded in Iraqi Kurdistan with little or no aid.

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Who are the Yazidi?
It was the harrowing story of the Yazidi retreat up Mt Sinjar that helped galvanise world opinion for the new intervention in Iraq which Australia has joined. But who are the Yazidi people?

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Asia's basic freedoms fall short
There is a general lacuna in legal and institutional protection for freedom of assembly and expression in many Asian countries with most emphasising restrictions rather than the promotion of freedoms, writes Renato Mabunga from Manila.
Read more 

Ignatian network promotes ethical consumption and investment
Australians need to educate themselves about the full cost of technology and resources - particularly in relation to disadvantaged communities, says Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards. 


College seeks to end corporal punishment in Timor-Leste
A young teacher blames Timor-Leste’s violent past for brutality towards children saying that teaching is about how to best deal with students from families raised in the shadow of Timor-Leste's violent past as well as the transfer of knowledge. 

Thai junta told to probe alleged torture
Thai authorities should immediately and impartially investigate the alleged torture of an opposition activist in military custody, Human Rights Watch said. ‘Red Shirt’ activist Kritsuda Khunasen, 27, was secretly detained without charge at an unidentified military camp for four weeks in June 2014. 

Insurgents disrupt medical services
Insurgent forces in eastern Ukraine have threatened medical staff, stolen and destroyed medical equipment and hospital furniture, and compromised the ability of civilian patients to receive treatment, Human Rights Watch said. 

A foreign surgeon looks back on a tumultuous time in Gaza
Norwegian emergency surgeon Dr Mads Gilbert 'The heart of the Earth beats in Gaza now. It bleeds, but it beats.' 
See also 
and 

In South Sudan they do everything with tears
Gumbo, a small hamlet just west across the Nile River from the capital of Juba, is emblematic of some of South Sudan's considerable challenges and seemingly intractable problems following months of violence that have resulted in thousands dead, hundreds of thousands - perhaps as many as 1 million - displaced and uprooted, and a political crisis that seems to be getting worse, not better.  

Rwanda: Justice after genocide 20 years on
On the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Human Rights Watch stands in solidarity with the victims and with those who survived. The Rwandan genocide was exceptional in its brutality, in its speed, and in the meticulous organisation with which Hutu extremists set out to destroy the Tutsi minority.  

Indonesian presidential candidate slammed over Timor-Leste abuses
A human rights group has criticised the presidential candidacy of a former Indonesian general who has been accused of widespread human rights abuses in Timor Leste and several Indonesian provinces.

Prabowo Subianto commanded Indonesia's special forces from 1980 to 1998 and is said to have been the architect of the 1991 massacre at the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili.  

Sri Lankan clergy appeal for UN enquiry into abuses amid Australian opposition
Diplomats preparing for the 25th United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva have expressed concern Australia is working to 'actively undermine' a push for an international inquiry into human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, because of the government's eagerness to cooperate with that country's leaders on asylum seekers, according to media reports.  

UN members criticise NZ’s human rights record
The United Nations Human Rights Council has found New Zealand human rights wanting with 155 recommendations for improvements. In its Universal Periodic Review released 4 February there were 25 recommendations relating to women’s rights including protection from violence and equal pay, 18 recommendations relating to inequality, particularly Maori, Pacific and minority communities, 16 recommendations relating to Treaty of Waitangi and indigenous peoples’ rights and 10 relating to asylum seekers and migrants.  

EU/Indonesia timber agreement flawed
The new timber trade agreement between Indonesia and the European Union does not go far enough to curb illegal logging linked to rights abuses, Human Rights Watch says. The agreement requires Indonesian timber exported to the EU to carry a certificate showing it was harvested legally, but does not address whether harvesting the timber violated local community rights. Nor does it address corruption in the issuance of timber licenses, which robs Indonesia of billions of dollars in revenues annually.  

Indonesian Sister plays mothers’ little helper
At a meeting of 50 mothers on the Indonesian island of Flores several years ago, Servants of the Holy Spirit Sister Eustochia Monika Nata asked the gathering if their husbands had ever hit them. ‘Only two mothers said never,’ she recalls.  

The empowered independent Indian women
Thousands of women in the Delhi slums have resolved to help their families out of poverty. And they are succeeding...  

The sexism the polls don't show
When the chapter on Julia Gillard is written in the history of Australian women, it will relate how the treatment our first woman PM exposed entrenched habits of sexism, writes Catriona Menzies-Pike in New Matilda.  

Women for the Church
It is an interesting time to be a woman in the Church, Beth Doherty writes. 'It is a time for reflection and prayer, as always. It is a time for questioning - and some things are not always easy to understand or accept. However, more positively, it is a time where, at least in this country, women can make our voices heard in many ways.  

Child sex abuse kept silent in India
India's focus on preventing sexual assault, after the gang rape and murder of a New Delhi student, should include stronger efforts to protect children from sexual abuse, according to a new report.
"When I got to the police station I was interrogated," said Krishna, who was raped when she was 12. "I was kept in the police station and was locked up. They kept insisting that I change my statement, otherwise they threatened that something would happen to me."  

Peasants mark Manila massacre 25 years ago
Two decades after 13 protesters died in what has been dubbed a massacre in Manila, landless farmers still long for justice, reform and a piece of land to call their own.  

Our century's greatest injustice
Sheryl WuDunn's book Half the Sky investigates the oppression of women globally. Her stories shock. Only when women in developing countries have equal access to education and economic opportunity will we be using all our human resources.
As a journalist reporting on China, Sheryl WuDunn saw the everyday oppression of women around the world. She and Nick Kristof wrote Half the Sky chronicling women's stories of horror and, especially, hope.  

Unlock the talent, passion, greatness of girls
Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee has two powerful stories to tell -- of her own life's transformation, and of the untapped potential of girls around the world. Can we transform the world by unlocking the greatness of girls?

Leymah Gbowee is a peace activist in Liberia. She led a women's movement that was pivotal in ending the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003, and now speaks on behalf of women and girls around the world.  

Schools unite for justice
Leaders from Jesuit and partner schools in New South Wales and Victoria are developing joint initiatives to promote social justice in their communities.  

International Women’s Day
International women’s day reminds us that, despite great strides for the position of women in ‘developed’ societies, women still comprise 70 percent of the world’s poor.  

Fate of East Timor's stolen generation in Indonesia finally coming to light
They were East Timor's stolen generation. Between 1975 and 1999 about 4000 young and vulnerable Timorese were secretly taken to Indonesia where some of them were forced to work in slave-like conditions while others were educated and grew up with the families of soldiers.  

South Africa’s failing maternity care
Human Rights Watch

Abeba M. became ill while pregnant and went to the hospital. The nurses swore at and insulted her. When she bled on the floor, they ordered her to clean it up. When she was in serious pain and called for help, a nurse said, ‘What do you want me to do?’

South Africa says the ratio of women dying from childbirth complications has more than quadrupled over the past decade. But according to a new report, it can reverse this trend by taking measures that include improving oversight and accountability for its public hospitals and health workers.  

Educating Palestinians for the new world
What hope is there for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza? With the United States giving $2.7billion annually in aid to Israel, Bethlehem University's vice-chancellor Peter Bray asks why Israel would want to change. He told Peter Kirkwood for Eureka Street about why he has hope.

Church Positions on Human Rights Act
Frank Brennan SJ notes the different views of major churches on a Human Rights Act but argues that an Act could respect conscience and freedom of religion.

Human Rights Consultation Report
The National Human Rights Consultation's report is now available online.

"A just society can become a reality only when it is based on the respect of the transcendent dignity of the human person. The person represents the ultimate end of society, by which it is ordered to the person."
Pontifical Council for Justice & Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n 132.


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