International Commission of Jurists Inaugural Newsletter 2022

President’s Welcome

Over the last two years, COVID-19 has dominated our lives and communities. Across the globe the pandemic brought human rights issues into focus, notably global restrictions on freedom of movement and access to both public health and education.

A sense normal is emerging in Victoria and much of the world. But it is clear that the changes wrought by the pandemic will be felt for some time. It is equally clear that the pandemic will continue to reverberate world-wide in actions to promote the rule of law and protect human rights.

The past two years have also witnessed a range of human rights issues achieve prominence in public discourse. Discussion about Australian Indigenous deaths in custody was reignited in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 prompted a dialogue of what freedom of belief should mean in 21st century Australia. Arbitrary detention of asylum seekers in Australia remains an ongoing debate.

Currently, civilian deaths and displacement of the Ukrainian population as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine are met with dismay. This invasion of sovereign territory has prompted discussion about the efficacy of international law and the limitations of the United Nations.

By these examples we are reminded that the rule of law is particularly necessary in the most extraordinary times.

This year the ICJ Victoria will focus upon issues of both Indigenous justice and also the intersectionality of rights as each relates to equality under the law, access to justice and the rule of law. We invite everyone who believes the rule of law to be the corner stone of a just and fair society to join us.

The Hon. Justice Lesley Taylor

In Review: 2020 & 2021

2021 Strategic Vision – Criminal Justice ‘Home and Away’

In 2021, the ICJ Victoria examined facets of our domestic and international criminal justice system in light of the rule of law including access to justice, equality under the law, and a fair trial.

Our 2021 focus included research and dialogue on:

  • The needs of trans and gender diverse individuals in the Victorian justice system;
  • Potential criminal defences for survivors of modern slavery; and
  • Liability for extraterritorial crimes and its relevance to Victorian legal professionals

ICJ Victoria’s focus on criminal justice – both ‘home and away’ – is a reminder that adhering to the rule of law, even in extraordinary times, is necessary for a fair and just society and the protection of human rights.

ICJV Webinar Series

In 2020, ICJ Victoria launched in Webinar Series. The series was a huge success, and we will be continuing to host informative and thought-provoking webinars throughout 2022. The series included high-profile human rights advocates, authors and practitioners including: 

  • Adam Wakeling, the author of Stern Justice;
  • JC Weliamuna, PC, former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia and expert of recovery of state assets; and
  • Marcia Langton AO, the foundation Chair of Indigenous Studies at Melbourne University and the Co-Chair of the Senior Advisory Group on the Indigenous Voice to Government

Media Statements and Publications

In 2020, ICJ Victoria published various media statements concerning domestic, regional and international human rights issues including:

John Gibson Award

ICJ Victoria is proud to announce the winners of the 2020 John Gibson Award, Dr Carolyn Graydon and Sister Brigid Arthur, for their outstanding commitment to human rights and refugee rights in Victoria.

Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, we were unable to publicly announce the winners at the annual ICJV Community Opening of the Legal Year. However, we hope to present the winners with their awards at an event later this year.

Nominations for the 2021 John Gibson Award are now open.

The John Gibson Award is awarded in honour of the late John Gibson, who was a scholar, barrister, father, and outstanding and tireless human rights and refugee advocate.

This Award has the following criteria, the recipient shall:

1. be a Victorian;

2. be a prominent advocate for human rights and/or refugee interests;

3. have distinguished him or herself by advancing and promoting human rights and/or refugee issues in the public domain or the legal sphere by positively and effectively advocating the interests of refugees, asylum seekers and/or sections of the community in need of assistance by reference to their human rights. Such advocacy may be in Courts, in the public domain, in private work or on committees. As a result, the recipient is likely to (but need not) be well known publicly or in the legal community.

If you would like to put forward a nomination, please contact us at communications@icjv.com.au with a description of how your nominee fulfils the criteria. Learn more about the award here.

Become a member

ICJ Victoria is a member-based volunteer organisation, guided by an Executive Committee. ICJ Victoria membership is composed of Judges, Magistrates, Solicitors, Barristers, Legal Academics and law students committed to the implementation of international law and human rights in Victoria.

ICJ Victoria’s output depends on the advice, research, time and expertise of our membership to promote the rule of law and advance human rights. You can learn more by signing up to our mailing list and can support our work further by becoming a member.  

You are also welcome to meet with a current member of the Executive or attend a meeting of the Executive by emailing secretary@icjvictoria.com.au.

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