Monthly Archives: August 2019

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Abortion referendum has split Ireland

An abortion referendum being held in Ireland has split the country.The abortion referendum has split opinion across Ireland.

The topic is considered one of the most divisive and difficult subjects in public life, and has prompted posters with graphic post-abortion scenes on the streets of Dublin, erected by the No camp.

The Republic has one of the most restrictive abortion regimes in Europe, a legacy of the influence of the Catholic Church and a conservative attitude by generations past towards the matter.

While repealing the Eighth amendment of the constitution enshrining the equal right to life of mother and baby would not immediately introduce abortion, it would pave the way for the government to do just that.

Well-organised campaigns have bombarded the airwaves and doorsteps and covered lampposts up and down the country with sharply-conflicting key messages.

Those in favour of a Yes vote include the leaders of the main political parties in Ireland – Taoiseach Leo Varadkar among them – some doctors, lawyers, women’s rights groups and campaigning organisations like Amnesty International.

The government has characterised it as a modernising and compassionate reform, bringing Ireland into step with its neighbours who all have more liberal regimes.

Although there have been several referendums concerning abortion, nobody aged under 52 has had the chance to vote on an Eighth amendment introduced in 1983, and backers hope a large number of young people will vote and turn the tide their way.

They argue that that abortion is happening anyway, three illegal terminations are carried out every day using pills obtained on the internet – and thousands of pregnant women travel to the UK.

Varadkar and his supporters in Government have said it is better to regulate the procedure within the Irish health service rather than outsource it to Britain, exposing women to the dangers and inconvenience of travel, or taking a pill of uncertain origin themselves without the benefit of a doctor’s advice.

Together For Yes, the umbrella group leading the campaign for an affirmative vote, has used the slogan “trust women” to argue that they should be allowed to make important decisions about their own lives and families.

Those opposed to change include the clergy, a sizeable proportion of politicians and civil society organisations.

The Catholic Church believes the life of the unborn is sacrosanct, that it would be immoral to allow its termination through abortion, but advocates greater support for those in crisis.

It has urged people to remember the rights of the unborn, who cannot speak for themselves; many others sharing the same perspective have characterised that imbalance in emotive terms – warning that babies will die.

Exposto sentenced to death in Malaysia

A Sydney grandmother has been sentenced to death by hanging in Malaysia after an appeal court overturned her earlier acquittal on drug smuggling charges.

The three judges sitting in Kuala Lumpur unanimously found the 54-year-old guilty but said she had a right of further appeal on the methamphetamine charges and wished her luck.

“We find the merits of the appeal, we allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the judge and find her guilty as convicted. The only sentence under law is death by hanging,” the judges found.

Exposto’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, told her it was a temporary setback and “you will win and you will walk away” following a further appeal.

He told AAP a new appeal will be lodged in the Federal Court on Friday.

“It’s the most shocking decision ever,” Shafee said.

“It’s a perverse judgment, no reasons were provided. The High Court judge examined every detail in the evidence and in today’s decision they simply reversed the decision without reason and sentenced her to death.”

He also said there remains the prospect that the case could become politicised given the return of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to the helm of Malaysian politics.

Relations between and Malaysia soured under Mahathir amid the hanging of n drug runners Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers in 1986.

“That’s a danger because Mahathir still holds a peculiar view of ,” Shafee said.

In a statement on Thursday evening Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said ” opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people”.

She said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would continue to provide full consular assistance to Ms Exposto in Malaysia following the overturning of her acquittal and imposition of the death sentence.

On December 27 last year Exposto was acquitted of drug trafficking but faced a prosecution appeal against the acquittal on charges of trafficking 1.5kg of methamphetamine into Malaysia.

Exposto was handcuffed in court where she was consoled by her lawyers and n Embassy officials after the verdict.

She had claimed she was the victim of a set-up after she was found with the drugs in her bag after arriving on a flight from China in 2014.

She was acquitted after the judge found she was scammed by her online boyfriend and was unaware she was carrying the drugs.

The prosecution in the appeal argued Exposto had been wilfully blind, that her defence was made up and she had engaged in a “sly game”.

Shafee responded, telling the court that Exposto was an innocent carrier hoodwinked by an internet romance scam.

No charges over NT justice commission

Former detainee Dylan Voller says he won’t stop fighting after hearing no guards would be charged.The Darwin prison guards who cloaked teenaged detainee Dylan Voller in a spit hood and strapped him to a restraint chair, forcibly stripped him naked or tear-gassed him won’t face criminal prosecution.

A subsequent royal commission into the Northern Territory’s youth detention centres found the system was broken, but police announced on Thursday that all investigations related to matters arising from the inquiry have now been completed and no charges will be laid.

A heartbroken Mr Voller vowed to keep “fighting for what is right”.

“I’m disappointed and let down by the system,” the 20-year-old told reporters, flanked by a group of grandmothers at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.

“I went through a year of listening to the royal commission, giving my side of the story, listening to other evidence, which made me (feel) down and played with my mental health, it made my anxiety worse, only to be told there’s not going to be any accountability.”

The $70 million spent on the inquiry had been a waste of money, he said.

He said the detention guards should “look in the mirror and be ashamed of themselves”.

“Hopefully they can apologise and I can forgive them and move on,” Mr Voller said.

Alice Springs grandmother Christine Kngwarraye Palmer, who gave evidence to the royal commission after her grandson was abused while in youth detention, said she felt really angry.

“We saw the physical abuse, (the footage) went all over the world, and everybody watching I’m sure would have shed a tear,” she told reporters.

“It’s a crime, they should be charged. If somebody did that to your son, what would you call it?”

Shocking footage from 2014 of the treatment of Ms Palmer’s grandson and others inside NT youth detention centres was dubbed ”s Abu Ghraib’ – a reference to the US military torture scandal in Iraq.

The royal commission found officers restrained children, using force including restraint chairs, and inappropriately used isolation cells.

It also revealed “severe, prison-like and unhygienic conditions” across a number of facilities in the Top End.

“The failures we have identified have cost children and families greatly, they have not made communities safer and they are shocking,” Commissioner Mick Gooda said when the report was released.

The Territory government has since announced it will spend $229 million to implement more than 200 recommendations.

Former NT Corrections Minister John Elferink said the fact no criminal charges had been laid meant Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had been misled in commissioning the investigation after the images were aired.

“We have… always acted when in government, with absolute probity, something Four Corners had explained to them at length, something they chose not to run with and as a consequence, they put out a story saying that we tortured children,” Mr Elferink told NT News.

“All of those things are indictable offences, none of that was found to be true.”

Storm’s Smith upset by NRL suspension

Melbourne captain Cameron Smith will be out to make amends following a week-long ban.A “upset” Cameron Smith will be out to make amends for his one-match suspension when Melbourne take on North Queensland on Friday night in their NRL grand final rematch.

Smith was banned for a week for a dangerous wishbone tackle on his former teammate Kevin Proctor in their clash with the Titans.

Smith was forced to watch from the stands as his team turned in their worst performance of the season in a 24-4 loss to Manly.

Without their leader the Storm attack looked lost as they struggled to mount any pressure on their fierce rivals.

Ahead of the Townsville match Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said the NRL champions felt it was a harsh call to charge and suspend Smith.

“It was tough for him last week to miss a game as he doesn’t miss many but the circumstance he was really upset with, getting that charge,” Bellamy said.

The coach said there were differing views at the club about whether to fight the charge with Smith making the final call, unwilling to risk a two-match suspension should he contest it and be found guilty.

“We think he was really hard done by as well but he thought it was the safe way to take that early plea,” Bellamy said.

The Storm met with the NRL match review committee, who explained their thinking on the charge, although it didn’t change Melbourne’s view.

“They were good enough to come down and explain their side of it so it’s a little bit clearer, but we still think the penalty was a little bit harsh but you just roll with the punches,” Bellamy said.

Bulldogs-turned-Storm duo Dale Finucane and Sam Kasiano could both be playing their 150th NRL games, with Kasiano aiming for a place on the bench after being suspended last game.

No breaches on ‘shocking’ live sheep ship

The deaths of 2400 sheep on a live export ship didn’t breach the regulator’s animal welfare standards because it was a heat stress event, a Senate hearing has been told.

Horrific footage emerged last month of sheep dying in their own filth on a Middle East-bound ship in August last year.

On day 15 of the voyage, temperatures soared, killing 900 sheep.

A further 1000 died in the two days following.

Narelle Clegg, who heads the agriculture department’s live animal export branch, said there were no breaches found on the Emanuel Exports-chartered Awassi Express.

“What this episode shows, particularly the video footage, it shows the inadequacy of the information we’re asking the vets to provide,” Ms Clegg told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday.

Bur Labor senator Lisa Singh believed it showed more than that.

“I think it shows the inadequacy of the department as an independent regulator,” Ms Singh said.

Ms Clegg responded: “It may well, that’s your view”.

The department is considering if more than one of its observers need to be on ships to observe animals and their onboard treatment.

Ms Clegg broke down as she thought about conditions on the Awassi.

“There was so much footage of empty troughs – it was dreadful,” she said.

LiveCorp chair and West n farmer Terry Enright said he had never seen anything comparable to the vision.

“We’re shocked because that footage represented the reverse of everything we work for,” Mr Enright said.

Department head Daryl Quinlivan admitted the compliance regime had been inadequate with a focus on death rates rather than conditions on ships.

“We now think mortality outcomes are not a sufficient measure of the performance of the trade,” he said.

The department’s culture and capability is under review following the controversy, as part of Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s push to clean up the under-fire trade.

Mr Littleproud introduced a bill to parliament on Thursday to punish dodgy exporters with up to 10 years’ jail and multimillion-dollar fines.

He has also announced a separate review of the n Standards for the Export of Livestock will be brought forward to the end of the year.

Middle Eastern sheep importers raised concerns costs would rise because of a new regulatory regime imposed on the industry during a ministerial visit earlier in the week, officials said.

Major importer Al Mawashi has opened talks with other countries after NSW MP Sussan Ley introduced a private bill to end live sheep exports.

A pool of independent observers, who are department officers and qualified vets, will be sent on voyages in the future.

They will ensure the animals are properly fed, watered, treated if ill and euthanased if necessary.

There were 272 live export voyages last year.

Live exports have been in decline in recent years from 2.2 million head in 2014-15 to 1.8 million head in 2016-17.