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Torture victims will soon be lining up to sue the US. What are their chances? EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

Explainer: can people tortured by the CIA now sue the US?

The US Senate’s report on the torture carried out by the CIA makes shocking reading. Questions will be asked about whether individual victims can sue for compensation for losses suffered, and where they…
No other minister has the same unchecked control over the lives of other people as the immigration minister has. AAP/Lukas Coch

New law gives Morrison unprecedented control over asylum seekers

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison now has unchecked power to decide the outcomes that will affect the lives of asylum seekers and refugees coming to Australia. Previous immigration ministers have had…
A ban on resettling asylum seekers from Indonesia calls into question the rationale of Australia’s resettlement program. EPA/Hotli Simanijuntak

Questioning the queue: blocking protection to asylum seekers in Indonesia

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has announced that asylum seekers residing in Indonesia while awaiting protection will no longer obtain resettlement in Australia. This move puts into serious question…
The new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, criticised Australia in his opening address to the UN Human Rights Council. EPA/Salvatore di Nolfi

Explainer: why is the UN reviewing Australia’s record on torture?

The Australian government is being examined on Monday evening by the United Nations Committee against Torture. Before the independent committee of experts, an Australian government delegation has to answer…
A carrier’s liability for damage, loss or delay of baggage is governed by a number of overarching international treaties. Adam Fagen

What to claim for lost, delayed or damaged bags on overseas flights

If you get on a plane and your baggage ends up being delayed, damaged or lost, who’s responsible: you or the airline? And what rules apply when you’re flying between different countries – even if you don’t…
Air strikes in Syria are the latest phase of the war against Islamic State, each stage involving a fresh set of moral judgements. EPA/US Air Force

Moral dilemmas of war against Islamic State lack easy answers

Every generation in recent memory has had seminal historical conflicts which demand that lessons must be learnt. The baby boomers had the Vietnam war. Their parents: the second world war. And our generation…
When Immigration Minister Scott Morrison talks of restoring integrity to the program, he isn’t fretting about meeting international legal obligations. AAP/Lukas Coch

Abandon all hope the doubly persecuted people who enter by boat

Whenever an immigration minister states that new laws will “restore integrity” to the immigration program it is clear what they mean is we have new ways of refusing cases and punishing the bad refugees…
Charting new waters. EPA/Alexey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/KREM

BRICS keep supporting Russia in bid to rebalance world power

While Western nations beef up economic sanctions and Nato discusses what stance to take toward Russia, the BRICS are maintaining tacit support for Moscow despite the Ukraine crisis. This is not entirely…
Does Tony Abbott’s justification for Australian involvement in Iraq amount to a legal basis for our commitment? AAP/Dave Hunt

Australia’s military involvement in Iraq is legal – for now

The humanitarian missions by the Royal Australian Air Force in Iraq are in accordance with international law, despite a confusing statement by Iraq’s ambassador to Australia, Mouayed Saleh. But continued…
Yes…but is it war? Inspecting weapons seized in east Ukraine. EPA/Tatyana Zenkovich

Explainer: when does a conflict become a war?

Is the conflict in Ukraine a war? This question has been raised in recent reports about a Russian invasion in Ukraine on the Caspian Sea. The USA and other NATO powers call it an “incursion”; the Baltic…
A coffin bearing the remains of a victim from flight MH17 arrives in the Netherlands. In determining compensation, the onus is on the airline to prove it wasn’t at fault or negligent. EPA/Bas Czerwinski

The loss of flight MH17: how much compensation – and who pays?

On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 17 (MH17) – an international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur – crashed in eastern Ukraine. All 298 passengers and crew were killed. It appears…
A strike on the UN school in Jabalia killed at least 17 people. Epa/Mohamed Saber

Attacks on UN schools in Gaza clearly breach international law

The shelling of Jabalia Elementary Girls' School in Gaza on July 30 by Israeli forces was a shocking example of modern military action. The shelling was the sixth time a United Nations school has been…
Hamas has built an elaborate network of tunnels but not civilian bomb shelters in Gaza. EPA/Jack Guez

Civilian deaths in Gaza conflict are not automatically a war crime

Inevitably, the United Nations Human Rights Council has expressed its condemnation of Israel and launched a war crimes inquiry. The vote on July 23 followed the usual political lines that have previously…
The process of delivering the justice that foreign minister Julie Bishop demanded for MH17 victims will be neither simple nor swift. EPA/Andrew Gombert

Achieving elusive justice for flight MH17 victims will be a challenge

Addressing the United Nations Security Council, Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop condemned the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as “barbaric” and “an absolute outrage”. She demanded justice…
Australia’s judiciary has emerged as a political and activist institution, frustrating the militarised strategies of the Abbott government in asylum policy. AAP/Lukas Coch

High Court asylum case pits the executive against the judiciary

The full bench of the High Court will hear the case of 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers currently on an Australian customs vessel over two days, starting on August 5. But when the High Court issued an injunction…
Australia has led the international community in condemning the downing of flight MH17 and the handling of the victims' bodies. EPA/Robert Ghement

Global law and decency: our double standards on MH17 and asylum seekers

Following the shocking news of the destruction of flight MH17, foreign minister Julie Bishop wasted no time in boarding a plane for the United Nations in New York. Australian diplomats engaged in intense…

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