While on the subject of the Charter’s full name, one flaw is that it doesn’t yield a good acronym. CHRR? CHRAR? COHRAR? It just doesn’t work in the way that ACTHRA and NZBORA do.
But it might have. Section 6 of the Charter provides that:
(1) Only persons have human rights. All persons have the human rights set out in Part 2.
And the Charter’s definition section defines a person to mean ‘a human being‘.
So, it could have been the Charter of Human Beings’ Rights and Responsibilities, or COHBRAR for short. Now, that might have been cool.
Victoria’s human rights law is unique in a number of respects. One of the less desirable ones is its full title: the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. This name is one of the many instances where the Community Consultative Committee, after traveling all over Victoria, decided that the community wanted precisely the same name that Rob Hulls had suggested in his 2004 ‘justice statement‘. Hulls certainly has his finger on the pulse! As the Committee unconvincingly explained:
The Committee considers that ‘Charter’ is appealing as it attests to the symbolic as well as the legal significance of the document. The Committee also decided to include a reference to ‘responsibilities’ in recognition of the views expressed by many people that rights and responsibilities go hand in hand.
The Victorian name wasn’t a big hit with two later human rights consultations, in Tasmania and WA, both of which endorsed my intemperate submission on the name:
Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities would have to be the most depressingly named fundamental rights document in history. The reference to responsibilities has a disturbingly Orwellian ring and is misleading, given the limited legal effect of Victoria’s Charter. I implore you not to follow this lousy precedent.
Aesthetics aside, the silly thing about referring to ‘responsibilities’ is that it’s not at all clear what responsibilities the Charter sets out, much less how they go ‘hand in hand’ with the rights the Charter promotes. One of the few times the word ‘responsibilities’ even appears in the Charter is in the right to freedom of expression:
15 (3) Special duties and responsibilities are attached to the right of freedom of expression and the right may be subject to lawful restrictions reasonably necessary- (a) to respect the rights and reputation of other persons; or (b) for the protection of national security, public order, public health or public morality.
So, how do responsibilities play out in the Underbelly judgment? The answer is that the media had all the responsibilities: Continue reading
This isn’t strictly a Charter post, but, given my posts here on Underbelly, I thought I’d include my piece in Crikey on the merits of the Underbelly judgment (and the media’s schadenfreude about Nine’s predicament) after the fold.