Watching Brief, Julian Burnside


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“The first decade of the twenty-first century has seen an extraordinary decline in respect, even contempt, for human rights and the international rule of law throughout the West. Illegal wars, the secret rendition and illegal detention of terror suspects, the failure to honour the international refugee convention through the mandatory detention or forced return of asylum-seekers, anti-sedition legislation, and secretive and draconian anti-terror laws all seem to have become permanent features of the post 9/11 world. Just a few years ago such challenges to the post-World War II international system and the knee-jerk recourse to increasingly repressive domestic legislation would have been unimaginable. Watching Brief is a collection of essays and meditations on law, justice, human rights, ethics and, ultimately, on what constitutes a decent human society. It is also an impassioned and eloquent appeal for vigilance in an era in which national security trumps democratic principle, where the legal conventions of the new realpolitik owe more to Guantanamo than Geneva, and where respect for law and the principle of respect owed to all human beings are being undermined. Julian Burnside illuminates many of our current concerns in thoughtful explorations of key historical episodes such as the Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up the British Parliament in 1605 and the Dreyfus case in nineteenth-century France. He also takes us on a fascinating tour of some of the world’s most infamous trials, including those of Ned Kelly and Ronald Ryan in Australia, Roger Casement’s trial for treason and the notorious Crippen case in Britain, and that of the Scottsboro Boys in the United States.” — Publisher.

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Weight 400 g