Jake Bilardi: The radicalisation of an Australian teen

The Age reported that it had identified the young boy in this picture as an 18-year-old from MelbourneBilardi joked that an image circulated on social media was “a bad photo” of him

The Australian government is investigating unconfirmed reports that an Australian teenage Muslim convert who ran away to join Islamic State (IS) has carried out a suicide attack in Iraq. Details of casualties were not immediately known. Last year, he talked online to BBC Newsnight’s Secunder Kermani.

Jake Bilardi is an 18-year-old Australian Muslim convert from Melbourne, who went under the nom de guerre Abu Abdullah al-Australi. I interviewed him over the internet in December shortly after a photograph of him appeared online, but he asked me back then not to reveal his identity.

He had no idea the photo had been made public, but told me jokingly: “It’s out now, I guess to be honest my biggest problem is that it’s a bad photo of me, haha.”

On a far darker note, he told me that he planned to carry out a suicide attack – and on Wednesday, IS said he had carried a suicide car bombing in Iraq’s Anbar province. The Australian government says it is investigating the report.

Propaganda

Bilardi and I spoke over a period of a couple of days in December. He said he was in Ramadi, Iraq, and at that time had spent about four months with IS.

Many of the messages he sent me were typical of the Western IS members I have spoken to – at times sounding like lines from IS propaganda films. He expressed his ideological hatred of the Shias he was fighting in Iraq and justified attacks against his home country.

He told me he didn’t want to be drawn into discussing how he had ended up converting to Islam, or about his life in Australia.

He did say that his family “hated Islam”, and that he believed all non-Muslims had a deep hatred of the religion. He said that he had always had an interest in politics, and a distrust of international organisations such as the United Nations.

I asked him why, if he thought there were injustices in the world, he didn’t seek to resolve them through democratic means. He replied: “Let’s be honest you can stand on a street and scream about wanting change and wait maybe 100 years for things to happen or you can grab a gun and fight and change things quickly.”

‘Hidden cameras’

I found out more about his journey to radicalisation through his account on Yahoo Questions, where users post questions that are answered by member of the public. He was a fairly prolific user, and his questions and answers give an insight into his changing state of mind.

Five years ago, his questions were the usual pretty banal stuff. In one he writes: “Is Russia part of Asia or Europe? Me and my brother were having a debate.” Others are about tennis, or the Grand Prix, or Microsoft Word.

An image published by Twitter accounts connected to IS purports to show Bilardi behind the wheel of a vanAn image published by Twitter accounts connected to IS purports to show Jake Bilardi in a suicide bomb van

A year later, there is evidence of changes in his political consciousness. He asks: “Are you against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?” And: “Do you think Australia is racist?” Although that’s still peppered with questions about his teeth, and where to get work experience in journalism.

In one post, he writes that at times he feels that members of his family might be “plotting to kill him” and that “hidden cameras” are watching him. He welcomes a suggestion to see a psychologist.

Around that time, he says he converted to Islam, having previously been an atheist. According to some Australian media reports, his conversion took place shortly after the death of his mother.

He asks the questions that any recent convert might: “Can I celebrate Christmas still?” “Wondering if it is halal for me to pray in a classroom during a lesson?”

‘Fast-tracked’

Another year passes and his account shows the signs of someone attracted to jihadist ideology. He writes in defence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and says: “There is only one Islamic State [in the world] between Iraq and Syria.”

His final questions were about a one-way ticket to Turkey, and seeking help with his passport application. Shortly after, he flew out of Australia. I asked him if he had been questioned at all – he said he had not.

“I’m a young white guy with no criminal record, doesn’t scream terrorist does it? Hahaha,” he wrote.

He joined IS, and says he was fast-tracked through military training as he told the group he wanted to be a suicide car-bomber. “I came here chasing death, I might as well kill as many kuffar as I can,” he told me.

I asked him whether, if nothing else, he had considered the impact his death would have on his family in Australia. He wrote casually: “I’ve got a job to do. I didn’t come here to hand out roses and boxes of chocolates.”

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Australia probes IS teen ‘death’

An image published by Twitter accounts connected to IS purports to show Bilardi behind the wheel of a vanAn image published by Twitter accounts connected to IS purports to show Jake Bilardi in a suicide bomb van

Australia is attempting to verify reports that an Australian teenager died while carrying out a suicide attack for Islamic State (IS).

IS propaganda published on Thursday claimed that Jake Bilardi, 18, died in a co-ordinated series of suicide bombs in Ramadi in Anbar province, Iraq.

The reports have not been independently verified.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she had been told some months ago that he had travelled to the Middle East.

The government cancelled Bilardi’s passport in October, Ms Bishop said.

“If the reports [of Bilardi’s death] are confirmed, this is another tragic example of a young Australian being lured to a senseless and violent death by a brutal terrorist organisation that is intent on imposing suffering and misery, not only in Iraq and Syria, but beyond,” she told reporters.

Threat reports

An image circulated on Thursday appeared to show Bilardi sitting in a white van, with his Arabic name – Abu Abdullah al Australi – printed underneath and the caption “may God accept him”

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (file image)Julie Bishop did not comment on reports explosive devices were found at Bilardi’s home

Bilardi is understood to have left Australia in August last year and travelled to Iraq via Istanbul.

Australia’s ABC reported that he left a series of improvised explosive devices at his family home.

The devices were found by his family who alerted authorities, ABC said. Ms Bishop declined to comment on the report.

A blog reportedly authored by the teenager but removed from the internet contained threats to carry out terror attacks in Australia.

Asked about the threats, Ms Bishop said she was “seeking to confirm” the report and would comment after a briefing from security services.

Bilardi had spoken to the BBC’s Secunder Kermani in December, and said he had travelled to the Middle East “chasing death”.

“I might as well kill as many kuffar [infidels] as I can,” he said.

Twitter accounts connected to IS claimed that Bilardi died in a series of car bomb attacks on Ramadi, along with foreign fighters from Uzbekistan, Russia, Syria, Egypt, Belgium, and Morocco.

Passports revoked

The Australian coalition government made it a criminal offence earlier in March for Australian citizens to set foot in the IS stronghold of Mosul without a legitimate reason such as a visit to family.

The boys were released into the custody of their parents, to face charges at a later dateTwo teenagers were stopped at Sydney airport on Sunday on suspicion of attempting to travel to join IS

Any Australian who travels to the city could face 10 years in prison.

Similar restrictions making it an offence for Australian citizens to travel to the Syrian province of al-Raqqa, another IS stronghold, were put in place in December.

But Australia estimates that around 90 of its citizens have already travelled to Iraq or Syria to fight with IS and 20 had been killed in the conflict.

The government has cancelled 100 passports on national security grounds.

Last week, two brothers were intercepted at Sydney airport last week suspected of attempting to join IS. They were later released to their parents.

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The secrecy surrounding Australia’s asylum camps

Asylum seekers on Manus IslandVery few images have emerged showing conditions on Manus Island

Australia’s policy of detaining asylum seekers in offshore facilities, for months, even years, has attracted strong criticism from bodies such as the United Nations. But government secrecy surrounding the operation of these isolated centres means many Australians know little about what life is like for those detained inside.

When journalist Eoin Blackwell needs to find out what’s going on inside Australia’s immigration detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Manus Island, he calls his local contacts.

Mr Blackwell doesn’t bother making official inquiries because, in his experience, information or access requests made to the Australian and PNG governments are ignored or forgotten.

“Every request I’ve made with the government to do with Manus has been denied or delayed until it went away,” says Mr Blackwell, a former PNG correspondent for Australian Associated Press.

“One time I tried to get into the centre and the Australian government said it was up to the PNG government and the PNG government said they had to call Canberra. Eventually we were told ‘no’ but no one would say who was telling us no,” says the reporter, expressing the frustration many journalists feel about the secrecy surrounding the centre.

The BBC sent a number of written questions to the Australian Immigration Department for this story but at the time of writing had not received a reply.

No-man’s land

Located in the Bismarck Sea and more than 800km (500 miles) north of the PNG capital Port Moresby – or a 3,500 km, 10-hour flight from Sydney – Manus is one of PNG’s most remote islands.

Few among the 65,000 population have benefitted from the billions of dollars successive Australian governments have spent converting a navy base into a no-man’s land for asylum seekers trying to reach Australia.

Map

Journalists outside PNG can’t enter Manus Island without a visa and approval from PNG’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, but permission is rarely given. Following Mr Blackwell’s departure in 2013, there was only one Australian media correspondent left in PNG, the ABC’s Liam Fox.

The Australian government, under former Prime Minister John Howard, set up the detention centre on Manus Island in 2001 as part of its so-called Pacific Solution to detain asylum seekers offshore while their refugee status was determined.

Manus was closed in 2008 by Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd but was reopened by his successor Julia Gillard in late 2011.

The difficulty of finding out what is going on in the centre was highlighted in early 2014 when riots broke out inside its gates. More than 60 asylum seekers were injured and 23 year-old Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati was killed.

Conflicting reports soon emerged from government and refugee sources about exactly what took place.

People attend a candlelight vigil in support of asylum seekers, in Sydney on 23 February 2014.Reza Berati’s death in February 2014 at Manus Island prompted protests from activists

It wasn’t until May last year that an independent report by Australian former senior public servant Robert Cornall found Mr Berati had died after he was clubbed over the head by a locally-engaged Salvation Army employee.

A year later, conflicting stories emerged about a fresh round of hunger strikes and self-harm at the centre. Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton blamed refugee advocates for encouraging asylum seekers to protest.

‘Pit of human misery’

Despite the wall of secrecy, Mr Blackwell, who is now based in Sydney with AAP, has visited Manus Island five times.

He paints a grim picture of what life is like for more than 1,000 male asylum seekers in a centre now infamous for two detainee deaths (in September another Iranian refugee died from septicaemia after cutting his foot), describing hot, harsh conditions, malaria, overcrowding, poor hygiene, riots, hunger strikes, mental illness and water shortages.

The reporter gained entry to the centre in March last year when he accompanied a PNG Supreme Court judge who was doing an inspection as part of a human rights case.

“Foxtrot (one of four Manus compounds) was a pit of human misery,” Mr Blackwell recalls.

“The refugees live in shipping containers, there’s water everywhere, lights not working, the heat is oppressive, no windows. There was a (detainee) with a bandage over his eye… asking for help in this stinking, hot compound.”

File photo: A man walking between tents at Australia's regional processing centre on Manus Island in Papua New GuineaConditions in the camps have been criticised by NGOs and the UN

Refugee Action Coalition’s Ian Rintoul says he relies on first-hand, eyewitness reports from people inside the centre, as well as video and images supplied by detainees and staff via mobile phones.

But he says after this year’s hunger strike, an estimated 40 to 50 mobile phones were seized in a security crackdown.

“Since the hunger strike, [authorities] have mounted CCTV cameras all through the centre,” says Mr Rintoul.

“In some compounds, guards wear cameras on their uniforms. There are routine patrols in the yard and the rooms. Staff are checked with security wands on the way in and out.”

Mr Rintoul claims the Australian government doesn’t want the public to know what is really going on inside the centre.

“That is why journalists and mobile phones are excluded. But when the footage comes out they can’t maintain the pretence,” he says.

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Australia and asylum

  • Asylum seekers – mainly from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Iran – have been travelling to Australia’s Christmas Island on rickety boats from Indonesia
  • The number of boats rose sharply in 2012 and the beginning of 2013, and scores of people died making the journey
  • Everyone who arrives is detained. They are processed in camps in Christmas Island, Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Those found to be refugees will be resettled in PNG or Cambodia, not Australia
  • Rights groups and the UN have voiced serious concerns about the policies, and about conditions in the offshore camps
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Ireland to close legal drugs loophole

(CNN)Well, it was weird while it lasted.

On Wednesday, lawmakers in Ireland rushed to close a loophole that temporarily made it legal to possess Ecstasy, crystal methamphetamine, ketamine, magic mushrooms and a host of other recreational drugs.

The loophole was inadvertently opened the day before, when an appeals court invalidated one section of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.

The court ruled that Irish governments had been unconstitutionally adding substances to Section 2 of the law for decades.

“We prepared for this possibility. Legislation was prepared and approved in advance by Cabinet,” Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said in a written statement. “The emergency legislation … will re-instate the status quo ante and re-control all drugs that were controlled prior to this judgment.”

    The emergency law moved through the Irish legislature and was signed by the President on Wednesday, meaning that the drugs would become illegal to possess again at midnight, a Department of Health spokeswoman told CNN.

    Varadkar said the temporarily legalized substances — which include a wide array of synthetic or “head shop” drugs — “all have very significant health risks that outweigh any perceived recreational benefits,” according to the Irish Times.

    The original schedule of substances listed in the 1977 law — including cannabis, cocaine and heroin — were untouched by the appeals court ruling and remained illegal.

    Varadkar also told the Irish Times that the court ruling could affect “dozens” of cases, although The Journal of Ireland said the court’s decision will affect only cases now in the judicial process.

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Ireland outclassed by unbeaten India

Ireland’s hopes of reaching the World Cup quarter-finals suffered a blow as India sealed top spot in Pool B with a fifth straight win in the tournament.

Ireland came into the match knowing that a point would see them qualify.

Despite an opening stand of 89 between William Porterfield and Paul Stirling and 75 from Niall O’Brien, their 259 total was never likely to be enough.

So it proved as Shikhar Dhawan (100) and Rohit Sharma (64) helped India to a comfortable eight-wicket victory.

The margin of defeat is a reality check for Ireland, who have performed well above expectation in this tournament, claiming three wins (two against Test-playing nations) to give them six points and genuine hope of reaching the last eight.

They can still do so, but they will need to beat Pakistan in their final pool game or gain a point should the fixture be rained off.

Much like

their game with South Africa,

in which they conceded 411 runs before being bowled out for 210, the gulf in class between the sides in Hamilton was vast.

They started well, with Porterfield (67) and Stirling (42) using the pace of the opening bowlers well to amass an encouraging opening stand and suggest a competitive total over 300 was a possibility.

But India’s switch to spin bowling halted their progress as Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravinda Jadeja and Suresh Raina frustrated the top order and claimed the important wickets of Ed Joyce (bowled by Raina) and Andy Balbirnie (caught by Mohammed Shami off Ashwin).

Niall O’Brien offered resistance and hit well but when he and brother Kevin both fell to Shami, Ireland’s hopes of a decent score disappeared, with the returning Indian pace bowlers cleaning up the tail.

Pool B

Team

Played

Won

Lost

N/R

R/R

Points

Q

India

5

5

0

0

+2.16

10

2

South Africa

5

3

2

0

+1.46

6

3

Pakistan

5

3

2

0

-0.19

6

4

Ireland

5

3

2

0

-1.01

6

5

West Indies

5

2

3

0

-0.51

4

6

Zimbabwe

5

1

4

0

-0.60

2

7

UAE

4

0

4

0

-1.69

0

It was the fourth time India had bowled out a team in this high-scoring World Cup but Ireland’s consolation is that they made the highest total against MS Dhoni’s side.

Ireland had two opportunities to gain a foothold early in the India innings as Dhawan twice presented difficult catching chances off the bowling of John Mooney but the bowler was unable to hold on to the first and the second eluded the grasp of Porterfield at square leg.

After that, India were ruthless as Dhawan and Sharma amassed 174 before the latter chopped on to his own stumps from World Cup debutant Stuart Thompson.

Thompson, whose first over went for 18 before he was hastily withdrawn, also claimed the wicket of Dhawan, who miscued one to Porterfield at deep cover, but these were the only high points of the innings for Ireland as Virat Kohli (44) and Ajinkya Rahane (33) saw the reigning champions home with 79 balls to spare.

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Niall O'Brien plays a sweep shot against India

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Niall O’Brien confident for Pakistan game

Ireland captain William Porterfield:

“I don’t think it can [knock Ireland’s confidence]. There are a lot of good things to take. We were disappointed to come off having not capitalised on a good situation. You have to give credit to India and they way they came back.

“It was a very good pitch and there wasn’t a lot of help for the seamers. We just couldn’t kick on like their opening pair did. Ashwin bowled very well. We just lost some wickets in that period. All in all I think we played very well.

“We have put in a lot of yards in the last few weeks. It is all about being fresh for that game [against Pakistan]. It is winner takes all so we need to mentally prepare and be ready. If you can’t get up for these games you won’t be up for any.”

India captain MS Dhoni:

“We’ve been here four months, the guys put in a lot of effort in the Test series so I knew we had to step up the intensity from the one-day series, and all the boys have done that.

“We’re a little jet-lagged after coming from Perth, the boys were a little sleep-deprived so that’s another reason this game was important.

“Our bowlers are really doing the job for us, they’ve stepped up – not just the three fast bowlers, the spinners are complimenting them and when we’ve used part-timers they’ve done well.”

Will Porterfield

Porterfield scored his first half-century of the tournament

India's Ravichandran Ashwin (right) celebrates with teammate Umesh Yadav

Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took 2-38 from his 10 overs

Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan (left) celebrates with teammate Rohit Sharma

Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma added 174 for the opening stand

India's Virat Kohli (centre) and Ajinkya Rahane (right) celebrate beating Ireland, next to Kevin O'Brien

Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane added an unbroken 70 for the third wicket to seal the win

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The photographer who made Australia his canvas

Dice, country road, Western Australia, 2011Trent Parke drew inspiration for his new exhibition from his life and a trip around Australia

Trent Parke was 13 years old when he witnessed his mother die from an asthma attack.

Traumatised, he refused to attend her funeral and blocked memories from his past. One of his few comforts was shutting himself in his mother’s darkroom in the family laundry. There, amid the magic of creation, he photographed his own wet footprints on the floor with her camera.

“I [remember] turning around and the footprints being gone,” recalls Mr Parke. “I was able to hold onto something, capture something, and have it there forever. From that moment, pretty much the camera has never left my side.”

Childhood memories

Today, Mr Parke, 43, is Australia’s only Magnum photographer. In 2007 he passed a punishing years-long induction process to become a full member of the world’s most prestigious photo agency.

On 14 March a raw and exposing body of new work will open at the Art Gallery of South Australia – one for which Mr Parke has dug into his childhood memories for the first time.

'Slippery dip, Gundegal, New South Wales, 2007'‘Slippery dip, Gundegal, New South Wales, 2007′

The Black Rose is the culmination of seven years’ work, with images, text, books, and light boxes sourced from Mr Parke’s life and an epic journey around Australia with his wife, acclaimed photographer Narelle Autio.

The items in the exhibition, his largest ever, have been cherry-picked from more than 7,000 reels of film, 15,000 words scribbled in diaries, and 14 published books.

The inspiration for much of it is Mr Parke’s mother.

“It was instant,” he says of her death. “One minute she was there and the next she was gone.”

Over the years, photography has become a way for him to investigate the world.

End of a long journey

On his journey around Australia, Mr Parke stopped at a motel in the state of Victoria. While he was unpacking he noticed a plant with dark velvety petals growing around a pole. Someone told him it was a Black Rose – a “traveller’s plant” – and suggested he take a cutting.

Back in his Adelaide home, that cutting is now 1.5 metres tall.

“The black rose is the end of a long journey and the search for true perfection, because it doesn’t really exist,” he says.

“Supposedly, it is given to people at a funeral and it contains black magic. I realised then that was the title for this show.”

'Cemetery, Adelaide, 2007'‘Cemetery, Adelaide, 2007′

Much of the exhibition is about chance and coincidence, about luck, life, love, and yearning. Yet Mr Parke, a former photographer for The Australian newspaper, is an obsessive willing to spend three months on a single street corner for one perfect shot.

It is this attention to detail – and his ability to capture what Magnum founding member Henri Cartier-Bresson once called “the decisive moment” – that first drew the notice of Magnum.

A gruelling trial

In 1999, Mr Parke received a call from a bookshop in Sydney where his Dream/Life book was stocked. Someone had come in and left a card, asking Mr Parke to call him. It turned out to be the legendary Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt.

“When I went to get the card they said: ‘Oh we’ve lost it'”, laughs Mr Parke. It was a couple of years before another Magnum photographer, Larry Towell, asked if he would like to be nominated for membership.

'Tree, Drysdale River, Western Australia, 2011'‘Tree, Drysdale River, Western Australia, 2011′

In a gruelling trial, he had to submit 80 photographs and receive over 50% of Magnum members’ votes. Two years later he submitted a further 80 pictures (this time he needed 65% of the votes) and two years after that he had to go through the process again. Now, having passed the three stages, he is a member for life.

“It is very daunting when you have the greatest [living] photographers judging your work,” he says.

The Australian quickly made his mark. In 2002, for his first Magnum AGM in London, he rolled in late. “I was wearing board shorts and a singlet top and I had to knock on the door and the whole meeting just stopped. [Magnum photographer] Alex Webb said: ‘You must be Trent from Australia’.”

Australia has become Mr Parke’s canvas and the only place where he takes photographs. “You walk around at times thinking the whole world is a painting. Light is my work. That is my defining factor,” he says.

For the exhibition, Mr Parke strived to expose his soul. The stress has troubled his sleep. He sighs: “I’m just sick of thinking; I just want to have no thoughts in my head. And who knows what will happen? I may not take another picture after this ever again.”

Yet his journey has resulted in some peace. “Everything that has driven my work over my entire life has stemmed from that one moment,” he says, returning to his mother’s death once again. “I think now I’m done. I’m finally there.”

Trent Parke: The Black Rose opens 14 March at the Art Gallery of South Australia, as part of the 2015 Adelaide Festival.

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Australia ‘sick of lecturing by UN’

Australian navy personnel transfer Afghanistan asylum seekers to  Indonesian rescue boat near West Java. 31 August 31 2012Thousands of asylum seekers have risked the perilous sea journey to Australia

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the country is “sick of being lectured” by the UN over its treatment of asylum seekers.

It comes after the special rapporteur on torture said some aspects violated the convention against torture.

Australia detains all asylum seekers who arrive by boat, holding them in offshore processing camps.

Rights groups have criticised conditions on Manus Island, where asylum-seekers are held.

In a new report to be tabled to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, the rapporteur, Juan Mendez, investigated allegations of torture and abuse in more than 60 countries.

In Australia, he highlighted some cases where the authorities had failed to provide adequate detention conditions, end the detention of children, or prevent escalating violence and tension at Manus Island.

This meant Australia had violated the right of the asylum-seeker to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the report said.

The Australian government has rejected the report.

‘Most compassionate’

When asked about the UN’s findings, Mr Abbott told reporters: “I really think Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations, particularly, given that we have stopped the boats, and by stopping the boats, we have ended the deaths at sea.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott looks on during his speech on National Security at the Australian Federal Police headquarters on February 23, 2015 in Canberra,Mr Abbott defended conditions on Manus Island as well

He said hundreds had drowned at sea as the people-smuggling trade flourished under the previous government.

Mr Abbott said stopping the flow of people coming to Australia by boat, mostly through Indonesia, was the “most humanitarian, most decent, the most compassionate thing you can do”.

“We have stopped the boats and I think the UN’s representatives would have a lot more credibility if they were to give some credit to the Australian government for what we’ve been able to achieve in this area,” Mr Abbott said.

When asked about conditions on Manus, Mr Abbott said: “All of the basic needs of the people on Manus Island are being met … everyone’s needs for food, for clothing, for shelter, for safety are being more than met.”

One of the allegations investigated by Mr Mendez is the intimidation and ill-treatment of two asylum-seekers after they gave statements about violent attacks at Manus. He found their rights were in fact breached.

He also found that two government changes to immigration legislation risk violating international laws prohibiting torture.

The report found violations in more than 60 other countries including in the US for the 30-year imprisonment of a mentally ill man on death row.

It also raises alarm at the proposed deportation of several individuals from the UK to countries that engage in torture.

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Australia and asylum

  • Asylum seekers – mainly from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Iran – travel to Australia’s Christmas Island by boat from Indonesia
  • The number of boats rose sharply in 2012 and early 2013. Scores of people have died making the journey
  • To stop the influx, the government has adopted hard-line measures intended as a deterrent
  • Everyone who arrives is detained. Under a new policy, they are processed in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Those found to be refugees will be resettled in PNG, Nauru or Cambodia
  • Tony Abbot’s government has also adopted a policy of tow-backs, or turning boats around
  • Rights groups and the UN have voiced serious concerns about the policies and conditions in the detention camps. They accuse Australia of shirking international obligations.

Australia asylum: Why is it controversial?

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Australian teens ‘tried to join IS’

The two brothers raised suspicions of customs officials after attempting to fly to the Middle EastThe two brothers raised suspicions of customs officials after attempting to fly to the Middle East

Two Australian brothers intercepted at Sydney airport are suspected of attempting to join Islamic State (IS).

The boys, aged 16 and 17, raised suspicions as they attempted to pass through customs, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Sunday.

The pair had been radicalised online and were headed for an unidentified “conflict zone”, Mr Dutton said.

Australia estimates that 90 of its citizens are fighting with IS in Syria and Iraq.

Mr Dutton said charges would be filed against the boys, who have not been named because of their age.

“These two young men aged 16 and 17 are kids, not killers, and they shouldn’t be allowed to go to a foreign land to fight then come back to our land eventually more radicalised,” Mr Dutton said.

‘Lure of the death cult’

The boys were later released into the custody of their parents to await a court appearance, Australian media reported.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the boys had “succumbed to the lure” of IS.

“These were two misguided young Australians, Australian born and bred, who went to school here, grew up here, imbibed our values, and yet it seems they had succumbed to the lure of the death cult and they were on the verge of doing something terrible and dangerous,” he said.

“I’m pleased that they’ve been stopped and my message to anyone who is listening to the death cult is block your ears. Don’t even begin to think you can leave Australia,” he added.

The boys were released into the custody of their parents, to face charges at a later dateThe boys were released to their parents, to face charges at a later date

Australia’s The Age said on Sunday that it had identified another young recruit pictured alongside Islamic State fighters in December as an 18-year-old from Melbourne.

Hoax reports when the image first emerged suggested he was a Briton called Jonathan Edwards, but according to The Age he is called Jake and he studied at Craigieburn Secondary College in northern Melbourne.

Australia last week made it a criminal offence for an citizen to set foot in the Islamic State (IS) stronghold of Mosul without a legitimate reason such as a visit to family.

Any Australian who travels to the city could face 10 years in prison.

Similar restrictions making it an offence for Australian citizens to travel to the Syrian province of al-Raqqa, another IS stronghold, were put in place in December.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-31791607#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Maxwell hits ton in Australia win

Glenn Maxwell hit the second-fastest century in World Cup history as Australia beat Sri Lanka by 64 runs to advance to the quarter-finals.

Maxwell’s first one-day international ton, reached off 51 balls, inspired Australia’s total of 376-9 in Sydney.

Sri Lanka fell short in a spirited run chase despite a third consecutive World Cup century from Kumar Sangakkara and a quickfire 52 from Dinesh Chandimal.

Australia are likely to meet either Ireland or Pakistan in the last eight.

Michael Clarke’s side, who face Scotland in their final Pool A match in Hobart on 14 March, should finish second behind New Zealand in their group, and would therefore meet the team that finishes third in Pool B.

Sri Lanka, who lie in third place in the group with six points from their five matches, also face Scotland in their final Pool A match in Hobart on 11 March.

Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara

Kumar Sangakkara is the first batsman to hit three consecutive World Cup centuries

Maxwell hit 10 fours and four sixes in an innings of 102 that combined deft placement with power hitting, as the 26-year-old finally reached three figures in his 45th ODI.

He was denied a share of the fastest World Cup century arguably only by his own honesty, after he answered in the negative when asked by umpire Ian Gould whether he had got a touch on a legside glance off Lasith Malinga in the 45th over.

Maxwell bought up his hundred in the next over, off 51 deliveries, one more than it took Ireland batsman Kevin O’Brien to decimate the England attack in Bangalore in 2011. However, it is the fastest ODI century by an Australian.

The Victorian received a bear-hug from batting partner Shane Watson, who hit 67 runs in 41 balls on his return to the side after being dropped for the previous match against Afghanistan.

Steve Smith (68) and captain Michael Clarke (72) had earlier laid the platform for a huge Australia total with a 134-run stand for the second wicket in 23.1 overs.

Tillakaratne Dilshan set the tone for the Sri Lanka reply by hitting Mitchell Johnson for six consecutive fours off the fifth over, much to the Australia fast bowler’s incredulity, as he and Sangakkara, a batting duo with a combined age of 75, put on 130 for the second wicket.

Sri Lanka were always struggling to keep on top of the rate, particularly after Australia captain Clarke broke a dangerous third-wicket partnership with a direct hit from mid-off to account for Mahela Jayawardene (19) in the 31st over.

Sangakkara completed a third consecutive century in this tournament, a World Cup first, and his sixth hundred in his last 11 ODIs, but his dismissal to James Faulkner in the 34th over left Sri Lanka still needing 176 from 97 balls.

Chandimal hit a lusty 24-ball 52 after Sangakkara’s dismissal to keep Sri Lanka’s slim hopes alive, but his exit retired hurt in the 42nd over effectively spelled the end of the unlikely run chase.

Listen to

highlights from Test Match Special’s

and

Radio 5 live’s 2015 World Cup coverage.

Pool A

Team

Played

Won

Lost

N/R

R/R

Points

Q

New Zealand

5

5

0

0

+3.09

10

Q

Australia

5

3

1

1

+1.60

7

3

Sri Lanka

5

3

2

0

-0.15

6

4

Bangladesh

4

2

1

1

+1.18

5

5

England

4

1

3

0

-1.20

2

6

Afghanistan

5

1

4

0

-1.88

2

7

Scotland

4

0

4

0

-1.42

0

Australia batsman Glenn Maxwell

Glenn Maxwell set a new record for the fastest ODI century by an Australian

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/31787939

Ireland deny Zimbabwe in thriller

Ireland maintained their quest for the World Cup quarter-finals with a tense five-run win over Zimbabwe in Hobart.

Ed Joyce made 112, while Andy Balbirnie was run out three short of a maiden hundred as Ireland posted 331-8, their highest one-day international total.

Zimbabwe required the highest chase in World Cup history and Brendan Taylor hit four sixes in 121 from 91 balls.

Seven were needed from the final over but the last two wickets fell as the Zimbabweans bowed out of the event.

Ireland next face unbeaten India, who have already qualified, on Tuesday.

The Irish team’s final match is the last of the group fixtures in the tournament, against Pakistan on 15 March, when West Indies face UAE, and is likely to determine which other three sides will advance to the quarter-finals from Pool B.

After a quiet start in which only six fours were scored in the opening 20 overs, Joyce and Balbirnie shared an Irish third-wicket record of 138 in 18 overs.

Sussex left-hander Joyce, who played 17 ODI matches for England from 2006-7, averaging 27, might have departed first ball, but a TV review deemed his edge had fallen short of slip.

He was dropped on 34 and again having completed his third ODI ton, while Balbirnie’s attractive innings came to an unfortunate end when his dive was short of the crease while attempting an ambitious second run in the final over.

Despite the formidable target, Taylor, who became only the fourth Zimbabwean to pass 5,000 ODI runs, used his feet in assured fashion, timing the ball exquisitely to compile his first century since 2011.

He had guided his team to within 109 of victory when he was smartly deceived by Alex Cusack’s slower ball in the 38th over, spooning a catch to mid-wicket.

Left-hander Sean Williams, who had compiled 149 with Taylor, somehow kept his team in contention before, with 32 needed from 19 balls, he holed out to deep mid-wicket when on 96, John Mooney taking the catch above his head with his foot perilously close to the boundary boards.

Yet 17 runs from the penultimate over kept the match on a knife-edge before Cusack took the remaining two wickets to finish with 4-32, as Ireland held on for their third victory in four matches.

Listen to

highlights from Test Match Special’s

and

Radio 5 live’s 2015 World Cup coverage.

Pool B

Team

Played

Won

Lost

N/R

R/R

Points

Q

India

4

4

0

0

+2.25

8

2

South Africa

5

3

2

0

+1.46

6

3

Pakistan

5

3

2

0

-0.19

6

4

Ireland

4

3

1

0

-0.82

6

5

West Indies

5

2

3

0

-0.51

4

6

Zimbabwe

5

1

4

0

-0.60

2

7

UAE

4

0

4

0

-1.69

0

Brendan Taylor

Taylor made his seventh ODI century in his 166th match

Zimbabwe's Sean Williams

Williams hit two sixes in 96 from 83 balls, his highest ODI score, before he was the seventh man out

Alex Cusack celebrates his double wicket haul in the final over

Cusack took the final two wickets in three balls

Bellerive Oval, Hobart

Hobart’s Bellerive Oval was the 14th and final different venue to be used in the competition

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/31777544

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