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Tuesday, 4 November 2003
Page: 22046

Mr Kerr asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 14 October 2003:

(1) Is he able to say what the International Bar Association's (IBA) view is regarding the United States of America's treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

(2) Does the Australian Government's assessment differ from the IBA's; if so, in what way.

(3) Do the statements of the IBA's task force on terrorism coincide with a statement from the International Red Cross (IRC) condemning the indefinite detention without trial of those held at Guantanamo Bay and noting that the IRC had found a “worrying deterioration” in the detainees' mental health.

(4) Will he detail all the representations made to the United States on behalf of Australian nationals held at Guantanamo Bay.

(5) Do any of these representations include submissions drawing attention to the IBA's or the IRC's conclusions; if not, why not.

Mr Downer (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows :

(1) The IBA has stated its view that the treatment of detainees is inconsistent with the prohibition against arbitrary detention.

(2) The treatment of detainees is a matter for the US. Australian officials who have visited David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib on several occasions have noted they are being treated humanely.

(3) Yes. The statements were made within a week of each other.

(4) The Government has been in continuous dialogue with the US since David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib were detained.

(5) Yes.