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Public Lecture: Diplomatic protection of Australians abroad

By 23 October 2012 6

Since the 2001 detention of David Hicks in Afghanistan, increasing attention has been given to the plight of Australian citizens detained overseas and the legal and policy issues that confront the Australian Government in responding to their plight. Successive Australian Foreign Ministers during this period have acknowledged the increasing workload associated with these consular cases, many of which attract significant public attention such as Schapelle Corby, the ‘Bali Nine’, Stern Hu and Julian Assange. There are important legal distinctions between Australia’s capacity to offer consular support and diplomatic protection in these cases. Often a range of international legal options are available to Australia, but only following the exhaustion of political and diplomatic processes and so-called ‘local remedies’. In this lecture it will be argued that Australian Governments need to develop a more consistent diplomatic and legal strategy in dealing with the cases of Australians detained overseas, and resist the accompanying surge of media interest that often demands that the Government ‘do something’. Australian Government support mechanisms that are available for the legal teams representing Australians being detained overseas will also be discussed.

Don Rothwell is Professor of International Law and Assistant Head of School at the ANU College of Law, where he has taught since 2006. In 2012 Professor Rothwell was also appointed as an inaugural ANU Public Policy Fellow. He was previously Challis Professor of International Law and Director of the Sydney Centre for International and Global Law, University of Sydney (2004 to 2006), where he had taught since 1988. Professor Rothwell has authored, co-authored or edited 16 books, including most recently Antarctic Security in the Twenty-First Century: Legal and Policy Perspectives (2012); Australian Coastal and Marine Law (2011) and the acclaimed The International Law of the Sea (2010).

The lecture will be followed by light refreshments.

When: Wednesday 14 November 2012, 6-7pm
Where: Coombs Lecture Theatre, HC Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU

Click here to register.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Public Lecture Series recognises the wealth of ANU talent and brings it to the local community and beyond.

Enquiries: T 02 6125 4144 E events@anu.edu.au

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6 Responses to Public Lecture: Diplomatic protection of Australians abroad
#1
harvyk110:23 am, 23 Oct 12

It’s an interesting subject, but I almost feel that a better lecture subject would be – “Going Overseas? Don’t be a douche whilst you’re over there”

In each case, I strongly suspect that the person in question brought their plight down upon themselves. Taking the scenario of Corby, (I use her as an example as she is convicted and not under any further appeals process) there is every chance that she did in fact attempt to smuggle marijuana, and took no real notice of local laws in regards to her crime. So should Australia really step in beyond making sure that the person has access to legal representation? Had she been caught in Australia for the exact same crime, the Australian courts would have had no qualms in prosecuting her, why now is she such a “protected species” that she transforms from “a bloody crim who should be off the streets” to a “she just a girl down on her luck” simply because she is overseas?

Beyond ensuring that the person has access to legal representation who speaks the person’s native tongue, and ensuring that the person understands their rights and responsibilities under the foreign legal system they are now involved in, I don’t understand what more one could want or reasonably expect from our gov’t. This is exactly what our gov’t would do for us if we were arrested on Australian soil, why should we expect more just because we are OS?

Finally as is printed on smart traveller on every countries advice page in regards to crimes, local laws, even ones which appear harsh under Australian standards do apply to you. I personally feel that as part of going overseas, it is the travellers responsibility to find out about any unusual local laws and respect them, regardless of if they agree with them or not. This does not mean spending hours in a legal library looking at the finer points of case law, but a quick glance on what is and is not acceptable should be just part and parcel of any travel preparations, along with buy tickets and ensuring you have the right visa.

#2
devils_advocate11:24 am, 23 Oct 12

harvyk1 said :

It’s an interesting subject, but I almost feel that a better lecture subject would be – “Going Overseas? Don’t be a douche whilst you’re over there”

In each case, I strongly suspect that the person in question brought their plight down upon themselves….

Don’t disagree with the theory of what you’ve said, but in practice the substantive laws are often not the sole or even most important consideration. Many countries do not have the (relatively) open and transparent law enforcement or judicial processes that we take for granted in Australia, due process, natural justice, evidentiary requirements etc.

Institutionalised corruption and other limitations on the rights of the individual can impact just as much as the laws themselves. These factors can lend additional justification to Australian intervention, in my view.

#3
HenryBG11:26 am, 23 Oct 12

David Hicks. Schappelle Corby. Stern Hu. Julian Assange.
What on earth does this lot have in common?
No.1 joined the Taliban – one of the most evil and repressively violent gangs of $#@s on the planet.
No.2 is a convicted criminal bogan.
No.3 was essentially kidnapped and held for ransom by the corrupt bureaucrats of a repressive regime.
No.4 has broken no law and yet was labelled a criminal by the Australian PM, his passport was threatened with cancellation by the Australian AG, was declared a terrorist by the US government, was denied a fair hearing by the High Court of the UK in an outrageous abuse of process, and worst of all, our Hicks-loving lefties have been utterly silent on his plight.

But when an Australian lawyer gets herself into trouble in Libya, Bob Carr charters a plane and personally flies over there to sort it out for her.

Absolute bloody disgrace and hypocrisy.

#4
LSWCHP12:33 pm, 23 Oct 12

David Hicks behaved like a complete dick, but the rendition to Cuba and bogus process (or lack of it) that followed was a disgrace. He should’ve been tried quickly and fairly and convicted or acquitted as required, not left to rot in a tropical jail for years. The lickspittle Howard government rolled over and allowed a citizen to be subjected to a shameful abuse of process in order to curry favour with the Americans. It was shameful.

Similar crap is happening to Assange. I don’t know whether he is or is not a nice man, but his actions with Wikileaks have generally (not always) been of great benefit to the world. The Australian government, if they weren’t like dogs waiting for a scratch on the belly, would allow him to come home and live in peace here if he wished, and give the finger to the yanks and everybody else.

#5
HenryBG9:36 am, 25 Oct 12

F%#$ Hicks. He’s a worthless c#$%.

Assange is deluded and irresponsible, but he isn’t a terrorist, and he had no clearance/contract/non-disclosure/etc… with respect to US government information, *especially* as what he was accused of “leaking” had been already declassified by the nutter and traitor Bradley Manning.

Assange’s abandonment by his own country’s (Labor) government will be a defining moment in Australian society.
Will be interesting to see what a Turnbull-led Liberal government will do.

Interestingly, Gary McKinnon, a UK hacker who actually accessed poorly-secured US defence networks and was facing a similar over-the-top US reaction, is being protected by his government:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9629768/Gary-McKinnon-US-official-very-disappointed-over-decision-to-block.html

Let’s hope May and her colleagues do the right thing with Assange as well.

Interesting to note that UK Labor is whingeing very loudly about Gary McKinnon not being extradited – so much for Labor’s talk of ‘Rights’, it takes the Conservative Party to do the right thing.

#6
Jim Jones10:08 am, 25 Oct 12

HenryBG said :

F%#$ Hicks. He’s a worthless c#$%.

Let’s hope you never get into trouble overseas then.

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