Authoritarian governments

Hans Paas, Castlemaine

Ken Maas (‘Bring Assange home’, Opinions, September 11) alerts us all to the danger to our freedom when governments ignore the rule of law.
The ongoing stand-off regarding Julian Assange on the tenuous foundation of him ‘skipping bail’ brings the whole legal system (most of which we inherited from England) into disrepute. It scares me that my freedom can so easily be threatened when three governments (Swedish, US and UK) work together to silence a whistleblower.
John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, in virtually declaring war on the International Criminal Court at the Hague has signalled an even worse scenario whereby US service personnel alleged to have committed atrocities, not only won’t be accountable for their actions to the court, but the Trump Administration is now hell-bent on destroying a system of international justice that was born out of the Nazi war tribunals held in Munich after the end of the Second World War.
In Australia the rule of law with regard to asylum seekers has been set aside for almost two decades in a fear campaign that threatens to spill over to challenge the freedoms of ordinary Australians.
The ‘trial stop and challenge’ that happened in Melbourne streets last year was only cut short because of a ‘flash mob’ freedom demonstration thanks to a strategic use of social media. Government plans to invade the privacy of users of social media and new laws requiring all who are in our airports to show identification are eroding even those ancient (going back to Magna Carta) liberties.
All of us need to be vigilant at the growing tendencies of increasingly authoritarian governments lest our basic freedoms are whisked away right from under our noses. Those September 11 terrorists sure are winning.

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