On Freedom

The Hon Robert French, until very recently the Chief Justice of Australia, gave the 2017 Law Oration about the rule of law in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court of Victoria.  You can read it or watch it here.  He cited authority for a proposition which I occasionally find a failure to grasp bedevils young lawyers’ thinking about problems.  It is that if there is not a law against it, you’re free to do it, in Australia at any rate.  You do not need a positively expressed ‘right’ to be entitled to do something (like be a bigot).  There is in fact no positively expressed right to be a bigot; rather the freedom to be a bigot, to the extent it exists, is an incident of your general freedom not having been curtailed by laws limiting that freedom.  Paradoxically, the Attorney-General would be on stronger ground in asserting the existence of his ‘right’ if his government worked some human rights, like freedom of speech, into the Constitution or even just enacted a federal charter of rights.

Of course sometimes it is nearly impossible to know whether a rule applies, and that is bad.  Incomprehensible laws undermine the rule of law, as do laws which ought never have been made and which are never used (like most of the criminal offences in the Legal Profession Act 2004). What, for example, is the meaning of r. 8 of the Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015, a piece of subordinate legislation made under the authority of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (Vic.)?  That rule, a bad rule, says: ‘A barrister must not engage in conduct which is … discreditable to a barrister’.  Equally poor a law is the prohibition on barristers engaging in conduct which is ‘prejudicial to the administration of justice’, also in r. 8.  What even is the ‘administration of justice’? That is a question I have actually had to think about, and the answer is not entirely clear.  Breach of these rules actually gets prosecuted.

Might this blog post, in which I scorn unduly broad laws made by unelected bureaucrats, which can be used lazily by prosecutors who personally don’t approve of certain conduct of their colleagues even though it does not infringe any specific norm, prejudice the administration of justice by ‘bringing the law into disrepute’ (whatever that means)?

Getting back to what should be a most elementary proposition, what the former CJ said was:

Continue reading “On Freedom”

2016: not such a good year (part 4: terror, including genocides)

Nadia Murad, a former sex slave used by an old, fat and ugly Islamic fundamentalist, and survivor of the Yazidi genocide

It is said that 2016 may have been the year in which a coordinated terrorist attack involving bombs and knives reached Melbourne. St. Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square and Flinders St, possibly on Christmas Day. 400 AFP and ASIO officers and regular police arrested seven men. Four were charged: Abdullah Chaarani, Hamza Abbas, Ahmed Mohamed, and a fourth man. Little is known. Per The Age, ‘Police said the suspects were “self-radicalised” but inspired by Islamic State.’

Tunisians pulled off a few memorable atrocities in the West. A man ran over and killed 86 people in a truck careering along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The divorced bisexual French father of three and alleged wife basher at the wheel was shot dead. Though Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was Tunisian by birth, and ISIL claimed responsibility, actual links with terrorists still seem remarkably speculative. Such religiosity as he acquired was acquired very shortly prior to the attack, as in the fortnight prior. His phone suggested he loved men, women, booze and drugs. Continue reading “2016: not such a good year (part 4: terror, including genocides)”

2016: not such a good year (part 3: Tromps, Trumps, Russia, China)

Victorious underdogs  With some already noted exceptions, it was the year of the underdog. In the AFL, the Western Bulldogs pulled off an extraordinary Grand Final victory, the fruits of ex-Slater & Gordon man Peter Gordon’s remaking of the club. By contrast, the Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed the suspension for 12 months of 34 past and present Essendon players, including Jobe Watson. That club won only 3 games and wooden spooned. Watson had to hand back his Brownlow Medal.  The doping scandal was more or less over.

Then the Chicago Cubs won the oddly named World Series in American baseball, breaking a 108 year drought. In Basketball, the Cleveland Cavaliers improbably took the NBA title from the Golden State Warriors, one of the most dominant teams ever in the competition. In English football, Leicester won the premier league competition despite the bookies having them at 5000-1 at the beginning of the season, an extraordinary upset. It was described as a sporting miracle. Continue reading “2016: not such a good year (part 3: Tromps, Trumps, Russia, China)”

2016: not such a good year (part 2: deaths)

The Hon. Alan Goldberg AO, QC, portrait by Jacqueline Mitelman

Lots of unfamous people died horrible deaths last year: see part 1, and more to come. But more than the average number of famous pulses seemed to flatline in 2016. The grim reaper took a few big scalps prematurely: Max Walker at 68, David Bowie at 69, Prince at 47, the Beastie Boys’ John Berry at 52, and George Michael at 53. You could say that Brangelina karked it too.

Then there were the other cultural icons who shuffled off: Continue reading “2016: not such a good year (part 2: deaths)”

2016: not such a good year (part 1: Iceland, Syria)

‘Your turn, doctor’

I had a lovely time last year, but for many, 2016 was not such a good year,[1] even if they were fooled by propaganda and fake news into thinking it was. If you want to see how the other half lives, check out Médecins Sans Frontières’s photographic recap of 2016.

Pulses It was a great year if you were an Australian chickpea grower though. The excitement of living through the International Year of the Pulse is unlikely to be repeated during anyone’s lifetime, but the record harvest must have really pumped our growers’ yams. They harvested a million tonnes of chickpeas, and had a record breaking million hectares under cultivation, about the size of Sicily. Who knew? Production was very poor in the sub-continent and prices for pois chiche / gram / chana / hummus / garbanzo bean / falafel precursor, cultivated these past 7,500 years at least, skyrocketed to more than $1,250 a tonne. There are a lot of sub-continentals, (more about that later), and they eat a lot of chickpeas because (some people estimate) India alone has half a billion vegetarians: more than the rest of the world combined.

As we will see, the real pulse was that of the underdog and the white working class. Or at least so the conventional narrative goes, since it remains to be seen whether Trumpland will see factory workers making large American cars again and whether the grandchildren of Kentish publicans will take back the real English ale taps from the Poles and Czechs.

Not in Iceland, though, where following remarkable elections in the wake of the Panama Papers’s revelations, the Pirate Party, with their unique mode of populist appeal, was invited to form government but couldn’t manage it. So the conservatives are back in power notwithstanding that the Prime Minister was the most prominent scalp of the Papers.  Bet you didn’t know that Birgitta Jonsdottir who would be its leader if the Pirate Party had a leader used to live in Forest Hill but quit Australia in light of the indignities associated with the application for citizenship.

The Panama Papers were interesting: nothing like 11.5 million privileged documents of a law firm with lots of clients in tax havens to excite the Australian Professional Liability Blog.  We learnt that Bashar al-Assad probably funded his war against his own people by having Mossack Fonseca set up up front companies in the Seychelles through which international sanctions were evaded. And that he purchased £6million worth of luxury London real estate while his people endured one of the agonies of the millennium.

And nor did the underdog prevail in Syria either, after ISIS corrupted the purity of the Arab Springers and Russia rushed in to defeat ISIS, whatever the collateral cost. The rebels were crushed, providing for a historically unsatisfactory maintenance of the status quo after the slaughter and displacement and economic obliteration of an entire state.  Remember, it all started when Dr Assad’s world-class goons tortured some schoolboys for scrawling ‘Your turn, doctor’ in red paint on a Daraa wall at a provocative point in the falls of middle eastern despots in the Arab Spring.  According to the foundation lore of the rebels, ‘They forced [one schoolboy] to sleep naked on a freezing wet mattress, they strung him up on the wall and left him in stress positions for hours, and they electrocuted him with metal prods.’ When one of the kids’ dads objected to Dr Assad’s cousin, he was told to ‘forget about their sons, and consider having new children’ and if that failed, he was supposedly told, then the fathers should send their wives to the police station to be impregnated by the security forces.  These events are part of the narrative of the excellent re-telling of of the story of Doaa Al Zamel, a girl from Daraa who fled to Egypt and thence to Sweden on a smuggler’s boat on which hundreds drowned: A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea.  I commend it to you as a personal experience of the Syrian uprising, the precursor to today’s more complicated civil war and of the decision to flee by smuggler and of the horrific passage.

Syria  I am so glad I was not in Syria and not a Syrian in 2016. The great powers other than China played out a proxy war with Russia ramping up its cowboy intervention, a war which, it is estimated, has produced about 11 million refugees — 6 million inside Syria and about 5 million who have fled to neighbouring countries. Since the US was supporting the anti-Assad forces which are not ISIS, that means that despite everyone pretending to be battling ISIS, Russia and the US were in fact at war with each other last year. Continue reading “2016: not such a good year (part 1: Iceland, Syria)”

News from Tibet

For some reason the latest of many stories I keep up with from Tibet, where I have travelled, prompts me to share it with you.  Maybe it’s the contrast with the case of wrongfully convicted Steven Avery, the subject of ‘Making a Murderer’ (did you hear that Brendan Dassey’s conviction has just been overturned?).  Maybe it’s that I too have a 6-ish year old, whose school is forever receiving delegations of kids from China who, and their parents before them, have likely been fed exclusively propaganda about Tibet which they no doubt consider to be a fractious and backward, quaintly religious outpost of neo-feudalists, a wild west.  Maybe it’s the people smuggler angle.  Maybe it’s the amazement at finding a story which causes the Don Dale saga to pale into comparative insignificance. Maybe it’s a frustration with the self-censorship about China which is so pervasive, and the near-complete control by the Communist Party of China of even Australian media (Chinese language media, to be precise).  Maybe it’s that this case has been thoroughly investigated by New York’s Human Rights Watch, whom I trust absolutely, and whose 108 page report forms the basis of much of what follows.

Who knows? But here goes with the short version (I’m going to assume the Tibetans’ suspicions are correct, which seems fair to me, given the Chinese authorities’ lack of enthusiasm for sharing and enthusiasm for repeatedly cremating details of the case). The Chinese framed one of the most senior supporters of the Dalai Lama still in Tibet, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, himself a venerated lama with a philanthropic flair. They charged him with financing a terrorist bombing, sentenced him to death in a mockery of a trial along with a co-accused whom they probably procured to implicate Tenzin Delek by torturing him.  Delek’s, but not the co-accused’s, sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

The Chinese tortured Delek for 13 years, beating him, starving him, throwing boiling or freezing water over him, all the while sarcastically suggesting he use some of his magic lama powers.  They hurriedly cremated him inside the prison without an autopsy after his death in jail, locked his grieving sister and her daughter up without charge for weeks and released them only after trying to have them promise they would not publicly suggest he was poisoned, and harassed or detained 60-80 supporters at around the same time 100 human rights lawyers and activists were thrown into jail. All of which prompted the super-cool looking niece Nyima Lhamo, pictured, to pay people smugglers $10,000 to trudge her across the Himalaya to Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama’s place of exile in the Indian Himalayas, to tell the story, leaving to the depravities of infuriated Chinese officials her ailing mother and 6 year old daughter.

And guess what? Since I started this post, news has reached me that the mother and daughter have gone missing after being detained by Chinese police. And news has also come to my attention of the propaganda video with a purported confession of a prominent lawyer arrested in the 2015 arrests.  As the Washington Post put it, ‘Wang rips apart her entire career of human rights law. Speaking in mellifluous tones while sitting underneath a tree, she denounces her former colleagues and refuses to accept a prestigious human rights prize awarded to her by the American Bar Association.’  The op ed explains how this is achieved: ‘…  the authorities might move to physical torture, including chaining detainees to a “tiger bench” in excruciating positions for days and sometimes weeks, applying electric shocks to their genitals, jolting and beating them with electric police batons, or placing them in long solitary confinement, to name a few. Some activists have been so traumatized as to be unable to speak after being released from detention …’.

Continue reading “News from Tibet”

2015, not such a good year (part 4: domestic politics and refugees)

Domestic politics

Speaking of Islamic head coverings, that most inappropriate speaker Bronwyn Bishop (see www.bronwyn.com.au) fell off the perch. Three weeks into Choppergate, Ms Bishop acknowledged that after commandeering a chopper at your and my expense to a Liberal fundraiser in Geelong of all places was ‘completely ridiculous’, leading to close analysis of her previous expense claims. (Now she’s back in the game, hoping to contest the next election in order to ‘fight terrorism’, crowing about her ‘exoneration’ in the Choppergate affair, apparently evidenced by the Federal Police’s decision not to press charges.  How you can be exonerated of behaviour you describe yourself as completely ridiculous is a puzzle.) Clive Palmer, whom Donald Trump made look Natasha Stott-Despojaesque by comparison last year, was funny in response, all the funnier for jumping the gun. Ms Bishop’s boss, Peta Credlin, fell off her perch too, and Tony Abbott with them after Ms B. Bishop and other Liberal MPs voted against Mr Abbott. He was succeeded as PM by Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull, but not before: Continue reading “2015, not such a good year (part 4: domestic politics and refugees)”

2015, not such a great year (part 3: abuse, terrorism, misery and disaster, power)

Abuse

Speaking of the Catholics as I was at the end of the last post, there were some fairly spectacular sick notes.  Cardinal Pell was too sick to attend the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in person. Alan Myers QC could not persuade the Commission to hear his evidence by video link. ‘No problem’, the Commissioner said, ‘Come back in February.’

And lead counsel for the appellants in the High Court appeal which might wind back advocates’ immunity called in sick the afternoon before the hearing, leading to its last minute adjournment.  It is now fixed for 8 March 2016.

The sexual abuse royal commission quietly did great work.

Dyson Heydon released his findings in relation to Union Corruption, and demonstrated in his reasons for not recusing himself for ostensible bias that an ability to use email is not a necessary attribute to rise to the ranks of High Court judge. Bill Shorten escaped relatively unscathed. Kathy Jackson and once-influential industrial tribunal member Michael Lawler shared their thoughts in an extraordinary 4 Corners, the appropriateness airing which, given the protagonists’ apparent state of health, I was dubious about.

Violence against women in Australia got some serious attention. Sarah Ferguson’s ‘Hitting Home’, a two part ABC documentary, was like nothing I had ever seen before. The same is true of some of the excellent policing it records. Rosie Batty was Australian of the Year, and the Herald Sun were right behind her. The government appointed a woman Minister for Women. There was a report into endemic sexual harassment in the Victorian police force. Continue reading “2015, not such a great year (part 3: abuse, terrorism, misery and disaster, power)”

2015, not such a great year (part 2: death, crime, marriage, war)

Death, crime and marriage

Richie Benaud died. 501 Sydneysiders dressed up as Richie a few weeks ago in a weird tribute at the SCG test. Lee Kwan Yew and Malcolm Fraser died too. So did Bart Cummings, Harry Butler, and Alan Bond. So did a singer I liked a lot, Victor Démé from the country known as Upper Volta when I was a stamp collector, Burkina Faso, a country of which I have fond memories: lovely people. He penned Djôn’maya, which is a bit Nick Drake, a bit 1960s Angola. He died of malaria, the country’s foremost killer even as great advances are made against the scourge, aged 54. Continue reading “2015, not such a great year (part 2: death, crime, marriage, war)”

2015, not such a good year (part 1: aviation and environment)

Happy new year, friends! Despite the discombobulation of having to find new chambers last year, I came away with a better feeling than I did about 2014 which (my thoughts on 2014 were here).  I took a sabbatical which probably had a lot to do with it (just back today, really).  That was pretty sweet. And you know, we solved global warming, those Parisians really showed Al Qaeda and ISIS how to stick it up themselves, with their ‘Je Suis Charlie’s and rambunctious singing of the Marseillaise, more than one government seemed to right itself, and David Cameron really isn’t that bad compared to some other conservative leaders getting about.

And my goodness, what a year for apologies! Wasn’t it delicious to see the appalling Speaker fall off her perch after so tenacious and prolonged a defence of her chopper charter to — of all places — the home town of the mohawked Mayor? Speaking of Darren Lyons, he turned up at Oktoberfest in a t-shirt featuring a full frontal naked Madonna hitch-hiking, with the words ‘Gas, grass or ass, nobody rides for free.’ He defended the appropriateness of wearing the artistic nude but apologised for the ‘sexist scrawl’, explaining that he hadn’t read the t-shirt before wearing it out, no doubt focusing on certain of its other features.  Then Tony Blair apologised ‘for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong’. Hilarious.

It was still a pretty bad year though, as years go, as we will see in the next couple of days’ posts.  Today, we look at the planes forced from the skies and the state of the environment. Continue reading “2015, not such a good year (part 1: aviation and environment)”

2014, not such a great year (beheadings, ebola, deforestation)

Russia Back, after that long excursion (structure is for advices; meandering is for holiday blog posts), to aviation. In the middle of the year, 414 people died in plane crashes within a week when a Malaysian Airlines and an Air Algerie aircraft crashed in Ukraine (killing 27 Australians) and Mali respectively. The former was shot down and the question is to what extent Russia was directly involved. Continue reading “2014, not such a great year (beheadings, ebola, deforestation)”

2014: not such a great year (offshore imprisonment of people who are not alleged to have done anything wrong, far away from journalists and Human Rights Commissioners)

I have already covered the 2014 exploits of the Minister for Making Refugees Disappear vis-a-vis, especially, the poor Tamils. As I write, dreadful scenes are playing out in one of the regional Australian centres for the infliction of misery where we imprison people without the slightest involvement of the judiciary who have done not the slightest legal wrong in conditions of the utmost secrecy justified by a ‘war’ which is not a real war.  Wonder where we got that model from!

There are advantages in having private contractors at the beck and call of the Minister for Making Refugees Disappear do the dirty on the poor bastards fleeing terror and horror in an extra-territorial malaria-infested island in a desperately poor nation where violent thugs who don’t like gay or sub-continental or middle eastern refugees much abound.  For example, the Solicitor-General advised the government that Gillian Triggs, Chair of the government’s own Human Rights Commission, and Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney, cannot investigate complaints about the trashing by Australians of the human rights of poor bastards going mad in sub-standard jails staffed by private security guards instead of public servants.  There was no rush that I heard about to plug this alarming alleged loophole in her governing statute.

2014 saw MP Andrew Wilkie ask the International Criminal Court to investigate Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison and in fact the whole cabinet for crimes against international law in their treatment of refugees.  I have no idea what the outcome of that was.

Reza Berati was killed — murdered in all likelihood — on Manus Island.   Continue reading “2014: not such a great year (offshore imprisonment of people who are not alleged to have done anything wrong, far away from journalists and Human Rights Commissioners)”

2014: not such a great year (planes, boats, Sri Lanka)

It felt like it was surely the worst year ever for plane crashes.  In fact, many more civilians used to die in aviation disasters each year for a long time, and the figures were even less dramatic when expressed as passenger deaths per million flights. 2014 was actually the year in which there were the fewest fatal civilian passenger airline crashes even though more than 1000 people perished. But planes do not generally go missing, never to be found.  And nice countries like Russia don’t generally shoot them down either, so it was all certainly newsworthy.

Just weeks ago, an Air Asia flight crashed into the sea in Indonesia with 162 people on board.  We will come to the crashes in Ukraine and Algeria later on. Early on in 2014, a Malaysian Airlines plane carrying 239 people  disappeared without a trace.  What to make of the fact that the pilot’s wife reportedly moved out with their children the day before, and that he did not make any social or professional plans for after the flight? the world’s people wondered in an orgy of circumstantial reasoning which never really went anywhere.

In fact, there was a precedent in 2014 for pilots doing strange things. An unarmed co-pilot locked the pilot out of the cockpit while he was taking a leak and diverted an Ethiopian Airlines flight scheduled from Addis to Rome so as to land in Geneva where he sought political asylum.  I can understand why a man might want to get out of the economic proto-powerhouse Ethiopia is becoming 30 years after the famine (it imports 10 million litres of wine): dissidents are not tolerated. But why not just get out in Rome, and seek asylum there, avoiding the likely 20 years in jail for hijacking? Continue reading “2014: not such a great year (planes, boats, Sri Lanka)”

2014, not such a great year (intro)

Welcome back then.  2014 was a lovely year in Melbourne, but damn was it an awful year in a lot of other places. Spectacular aviation disasters bookended and bisected the year.  In fact it was probably these disasters which got me off my holiday butt for the first time since 2007 to write a wrap of the year, but as we will see the aviation fatalities statistics are not particularly remarkable.  Much more dreadful things happened or came fully to light, as we will also see.  (This is part 1.  Part 2 is here.  Part 3 is here.  And Part 4 is here.)

We began to focus on Boko Haram when they seized an exam hall full of aspirant physicists and sold the Nigerian schoolgirls into slavery.  The State, deeply infiltrated by the nutcase insurgents, seemed paralysed in response.  Up the coast, a plague raged which had desperately poor people hemorrhaging painfully to death in gutters, untouchable, unaided though all they really needed was logistics and saline drips.  Mediaeval atrocities were meted out in a purported Islamic caliphate willy nilly by the other arm of ISIS.  (It may be preferable to refer to these nutjobs as Dai’sh (the Arabic acronym) so as to repudiate the brigands’  invocation of Islam. The French are quite diligent in this respect and The Age suggested that this created a particular hatred in the minds of Islamic extremists which has now played out in 2015.)

A young French economist put out a 700 page economics treatise on inequality which unpredictably  became in 2014 a number one bestseller on Amazon. Then he declined to receive the Legion d’Honneur.  Meanwhile, Earth’s richest 400 people got about $115 billion richer (so that they now have $1.4 trillion, roughly Australia’s 2014 GDP).  In fact, the richest 1% of people own nearly half the world’s financial wealth, according to a 2014 report, while the poorest 50% own less than than the richest 85 people. In fact,  the richest 1% are set to own more than the other 99% by the end of this year, according to Oxfam. All this became mainstream discussion because of Pikkety.  Bill Gates came out and agreed with many of Thomas Pikkety’s theses and conservatives generally felt free publicly to agree that extreme wealth disparity was not entirely idyllic, which seems like a change to me.

Naomi Klein published This Changes Everything, arguing persuasively that tinkering around the edges of the climate change disaster, as we are, is doomed to failure.  She’s talking about a revolution.  Robert Manne, a former editor of Quadrant and ardent anti-communist, described it in a magazine published by a wealthy property developer as ‘among the most brilliant and important books of recent times‘.  It rammed home to me the message that, 20 years into the desultory climate talks we have been having, the spewing of CO2 has only increased annually.  All we ever do is argue about how much we might promise to reduce, in the future, the rate of the spewAnd then it was, worldwide, the hottest and most CO2 soiled year ever, with the greatest increase in CO2 emissions.  Something, no doubt, to do with the fact observed by Vaclav Smil, which rose to prominence last year, that China has in recent times used as much concrete in three years as America did in the 20th century. Last year was the third hottest year for Australia since records began — almost a whole degree hotter than the 1960-1990 average — and the second hottest years since records began in Victoria and NSW.  Last year concluded Australia’s hottest ever 24 months.

A US Senate Committee published a report (read it here) on the CIA’s joint venture with Gaddafi, Assad, and Mubarak to torture people between 2002 and 2006.  Its 600 pages have been well summarised thus:

“The torture was far more brutal than we thought, and the CIA lied about that. It didn’t work, and they lied about that too. It produced so much bad intel that it most likely impaired our national security, and of course they lied about that as well. They lied to Congress, they lied to the president, and they lied to the media. Despite this, they are still defending their actions.”

Of course the issue in 2014 of the report was good news, since it is rare for regimes engaged in terrible breaches of international law to investigate thoroughly and then publish the detailed report.  But as we will see, its contents were bad news from not so long ago, brought to light.  So was the fact that it represented a blip on most people’s radars, if they learnt of it at all.  And so was the fact that, as far as I can tell from down here at the bottom of the world, nothing changed.  Obama said hokily ‘We tortured some folk’, a grotesque sentence even before the addition of ‘It’s important for us not to feel sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job those folks had.’  (You see?  The victims and the torturers were all the kind of kind and ordinary people that go to folk festivals, together.)  Well, I for one feel sanctimonious about those miserable sadistic nobs who trashed the values they purport to police and then spread lies to the media in an entirely successful propaganda campaign.  Dick Cheney continues to tell lies in his response to the report.

There was so much terrible, terrible war: South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Syria, Dai’sh, extra-judicial executions by drones.  So many beheadings and crucifixions, including a couple of westerners, Aussie kids with severed heads.  Nice white people doing things like invading, and annexing the neighbours under cover of preposterous propaganda worthy of the Chinese or North Korean regimes. So terribly little talk of peace, and international law and, domestically, the rule of law.  The absolute contempt for the most fundamental norms of international law — peaceful resolution of disputes, non-acquisition of sovereignty by conquest, minimum standards for the treatment of captured enemies, the prohibition of torture, non-refoulement — has to be corrosive of the rule of domestic law.  I feel relatively safe in saying that that can’t be good.  That is all I’m saying in much of what follows because, for example, I wouldn’t have a clue about how happy the people of Crimea are to be back in the bosom of Mother Russia, and am not really sure what I would do if I were Immigration Minister; I just know what I would not be doing.  (More — quite a lot actually — to follow in the coming days)