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Internationally respected global health and pandemics scholar Professor Lawrence Gostin will deliver the 2009 Miegunyah Public Lecture at the University of Melbourne on Wednesday, September 16.

The decision by the US Government this week to pass on names of all detainees in its secret detention centres to the Red Cross is a step in the right direction, according to Professor Gerry Simpson.  "We know that in secret sites like Bagram Air Base (Iraq) and Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) that some fairly nasty things can happen, and it’s the glare of publicity that prevents torture in many cases." 

"So I think identifying and giving the names of these individuals is a big step, certainly from the perspective of the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and international lawyers generally."

However a recent survey by the Australian Red Cross to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Convention found that more than a third of Australians thought torture on captured soldiers was acceptable if it was to obtain military information.  It's a debate that Professor Simpson finds suspect.  "The example always given is the terrorist with a ticking bomb, that you have to torture this individual before the ticking bomb blows up half the city.  But there’s never been a case of a ticking bomb, so I think there’s something slightly spurious about using this as a way into legitimizing torture."

A full academic profile of Professor Simpson is available at http://www.law.unimelb.edu.au/index.cfm?objectid=F9D2D075-B0D0-AB80-E2BC989969E28989&username=Gerry%20Simpson

To help commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions (established August 1949) the International Red Cross ran an essay competition on the importance of international humanitarian law.  The following is the winning essay by Sarah Horan, a final year Media & Communications/Law student at the University of Melbourne, on the the development of international humanitarian law since the establishment of the Geneva Conventions.

Dr Francis Gurry, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), will give his first Australian speech as head of the UN agency on Monday August 3.

Professor Tim Lindsey says the re-election of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has, somewhat surprisingly, barely rated a mention in one of it's biggest trading and diplomatic partners: Australia. 

"Perhaps this was because it was expected, but I suspect it's more likely that Australian's have barely noticed Indonesia's extremely successful transition to democracy.  Of all the countries that have gone through the economic crisis, Indonesia is one of the few in which democracy has taken hold and increased."

"Attitudes in Australia are still fixed by the old experiences of an authoritarian, military backed dictatorship under Suharto.  Despite the fact that somewhere around a fifth of Australian's have gone to Bali, no one seems to have registered the massive transition to an open, democratic and vibrant democracy."

Former Justice of the High Court of Australia, The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG, discusses international law in accepting an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the University of Melbourne.

Ned Kelly’s remains should be returned to his family and he should be given a decent burial says former Pentridge Prison chaplain, Fr Peter Norden, AO.

Fr Norden, who has been appointed a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne, says that in the 12 years since the former Pentridge Prison closed and moved into the hands of private commercial developers, nothing has been done to recognise the grave sites of those buried in the prison grounds.

Ned Kelly’s remains were moved from the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1929, after they were disturbed by building works for the Melbourne Working Men’s College (now RMIT University), along with more than 30 other persons executed in the city gaol. They joined the remains of the 10 executed and buried at Pentridge Prison.

“Forensic Services are now assessing the human remains buried at Pentridge Prison. These are not unknown persons, but the remains of those the Victorian Government executed,” Father Norden says.

Because of the lack of recognition of the Pentridge gravesites, Fr Norden, arranged for the exhumation of Ronald Ryan 40 years after his execution. His remains were returned to his family last year, and Fr Norden is now calling for the same treatment for Ned Kelly’s remains.

“Female descendants of Ned Kelly’s family have expressed to me an interest in providing assistance for DNA testing and I believe they should decide where Ned gets buried, certainly not back in the former Pentridge Prison site.

“Ned Kelly’s family’s descendents should have the same rights as Ronald Ryan’s,” insists Fr Norden. “It would be fitting to conduct a private memorial service for the family, as his remains should not be controlled by private commercial interests.

“Let’s give Ned Kelly a final resting place with his deceased family members and insist that the Victorian Government recognises the human remains of those who cannot be identified, by providing a memorial at the gravesites at Pentridge.”

Father Norden AO will be available for interviews at the Melbourne Law School today.

Ned Kelly’s remains should be returned to his family and he should be given a decent burial says former Pentridge Prison chaplain, Fr Peter Norden, AO.

Evil, law and humanity are all linked, but to what ends asks Professor Gerry Simpson in the Inaugural Professorial Lecture at the Melbourne Law School.

Legalising same-sex marriage in the US may be a civil rights victory, but it’s not the fix for what’s wrong with the law of families, according to a leading international family law expert.

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