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Sex, Slavery and the High Court of Australia: The Contribution of R v. Tang to International Jurisprudence

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image of International Criminal Law Review

The judgment of the High Court of Australia in R v. Tang is a significant contribution to jurisprudence on the definition of slavery under international law. This case considered whether the intention of the perpetrator was a necessary element for the prosecution of that offence under Australian law. The High Court also preserved the conceptual integrity of slavery, evaluated the decisions in Kunarac and Siliadin, identified the powers attaching to the right of ownership as that expression appears in the 1926 and 1956 Slavery Conventions and employed a human rights orientation to contemporary manifestations of slavery. Although considerable practical challenges remain for enforcing the prohibition against slavery in Australia, R v. Tang marks a significant precedent likely to influence future international jurisprudence on the topic.

Affiliations: 1: Legal Officer, Migration and Refugee Review Tribunal


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