27 March 2013


With a total media ban and severe restrictions on NGO visits, it is near impossible for the Australian public to know what’s going on in overseas detention facilities. The detainees feel isolated and unsure of their futures. In response to this situation Chilout has initiated a campign to bring the stories of the children and adults on Manus Island into the public eye and and build public pressure on both parties towards a fairer asylum policy.

Out of Sight is a collection of images, drawings and audio from inside detention on Manus Island. There are also videos of reflections of ChilOut Youth Ambassadors reflecting on the children detained today along with interviews with experts in the field.

According to the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship as of March 1, 2013 there are currently 998 children held in secure detention facilities: 34 children are detained on Manus Island and 281 children are detained on Christmas Island with the rest in mainland facilities. A further 985 are held in community detention.

Meanwhile the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has completed its annual submission on Australia's Refugee and Humanitarian program. The recommendations include:
reconsideration of the removal of eligibility to the Special Humanitarian Program for refugees who arrive by boat; ending the numerical link between the onshore and offshore components of the program; progress through the Bali Process to build regional refugee protection in the Asia-Pacific region; abandonment of offshore processing of asylum seekers; using detention as a last resort for children in detention and; better support for asylum seekers to secure work. The full submission is available at the RCOA website.


It is estimated 70 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa. The most recent figures estimate that 1.8 million children in West Africa are involved in the industry and some are forced or trafficked.

The Fair Trade Easter Campaign  aims to contribute to the broader global FAIRTRADE  movement by advocating for the purchasing, sales and consumption of ethically produced chocolate at Easter time.

This campaign builds on the global campaigns in recent years that have seen several well-known chocolate manufacturers, including Cadbury and Nestle, use ethically sourced chocolate. By buying cocoa beans that are certified FAIR TRADE, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ Certified, these chocolate producers ensure there is no forced labour or trafficked labour on cocoa plantations.


The unseasonal snow and icy conditions currently being experienced in parts of Europe provide further confirmation of the dire warnings of scientists of an increasing incidence of extreme weather events as a result of human-induced climate change. On March 23rd hundreds of millions of people participated in Earth Hour again uniting to send a clear message – we are determined to create a sustainable future for our planet.

The event was observed in more than 7000 cities, towns and municipalities in more than 150 countries and territories, with many of the world’s best known human and natural landmarks going dark as the backdrop to a multitude of “beyond the hour” activities and initiatives generating outcomes for the movement and the planet on which we live.

Some of the key landmarks that marked the event include the Sydney opera house and Harbour bridge, Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore's Marina Bay Sands, Tokyo tower, Taipei 101, the Bird's Nest in Beijing, the Gateway of India, the world's tallest building the Burj Khalifa, the Ancient Citadel of Erbil in Kurdistan, Table Mountain, the Bosphorus Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, the Brandenburg Gate, the UK Houses of Parliament, Buckingham palace, the Empire State Building, Niagara Falls and Los Angeles airport.

Earth Day on April 22nd provides another opportunity for those unable to participate or those who would wish to continue to express their concern about the need for urgent action to address climate change.


The terms of the EU bail-out of Cyprus announced last week signals the end of its status as an offshore tax haven, particularly for wealthy Russians.

The overall impact will be a dramatic change for Cyprus’ economy oversight of which has been seen to be lax by international standards. The Cyprus government has agreed to take significant measures to alter its tax-haven status as part of the deal which “will mark the end of an era for Cyprus, which has in effect spent the past decade advertising itself as a place where wealthy individuals who want to avoid taxes and scrutiny can safely park their money, no questions asked,” according to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. “But it may also mark at least the beginning of the end for something much bigger: The era when unrestricted movement of capital was taken as a desirable norm around the world.”

Such a shift could permanently reshape, or even eradicate, the tax haven system as currently understood. In the meantime, however, offshore assets in Cyprus might just move elsewhere, such as Latvia or the Cayman Islands

Tax havens are just one feature of the global financial system that impact on the poor and vulnerable of our planet. Global Financial Integrity estimates that the amount of money draining illicitly out of developing countries into western economies is approximately $850 billion to $1 trillion a year.  These cross-border funds are generated as the proceeds of a) bribery and theft by government officials (about 3 percent of the global total), b) criminal activity such as drug trading and racketeering (comprising some 30 to 35 percent of the global total), and c) commercial tax evasion accomplished primarily through the mispricing of exports and imports (by far the largest component at about 60 to 65 percent of the global total).

Africa’s illicit illegal outflows have been on the rise over the last decade amid a commodities boom. Outflows peaked in 2007 at just more than 100 billion dollars amid record high oil and commodity prices. While Africa is rich in natural resources, the size and scope of the illicit outflows suggests that much of the wealth ends in private bank accounts.

Unfortunately, local African judicial systems have shown little willingness or desire to fight the corruption. In most countries the judicial system is likely all but powerless against the powerful and corrupt military, police, and government officials who are engaged in corruption. Abroad, however, courts in the United States and Europe have been pressing charges against corrupt corporations and individuals.

Numerous Western countries have been seeing a rise in illegal capital flows as people try to shield their money from taxes and the prying eyes of governments. As a result, many powerful nations, such as the United States, have been pushing for a more transparent financial system. Even the famed vaults of Switzerland have been forced to open their books.

There is a possibility that African nations may eventually benefit from this growing trend towards more international banking cooperation. This, in turn, could provide African nations with more of the necessary tools needed to fight and curb corruption and direct more benefits of economic growth to the people

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