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Conflicting messages from Labor over Hicks and Habib.



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ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON PHILIP RUDDOCK MP

NEWS RELEASE

31 May 2004 O84/2004

CONFLICTING MESSAGES FROM LABOR OVER HICKS AND HABIB

The Labor Party is again sending conflicting messages over the prosecution of two Australians held in Guantanamo Bay the Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said today.

“In separate interviews, the Opposition Leader and his Shadow Attorney-General had conflicting views on whether Mr Hicks and Mr Habib should be returned to Australia for prosecution,” Mr Ruddock said.

“The Opposition clearly knows the only way trials could be held in Australia would be for criminal laws to be made retrospective to cover the time at which their alleged offences occurred.”

Mr Latham has been quoted yesterday as saying:

‘We argued consistently that that justice should be dispensed in Australia, they're Australian citizens.’

However, Shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has recognised the problems and raised doubts about retrospective laws:

‘We do have some limits to our laws. I don't think that it is impossible to apply international laws here but it would require a bit of unusual legislation being introduced to do it, and I'm not sure there is an argument for us to do that yet.’ (ABC TV Insiders 30/5/2004)

“Labor needs to state quite clearly whether it supports retrospective criminal laws and recognises all the problems that would have to be addressed or whether it is as the Shadow Attorney-General suggests, a little too difficult,” Mr Ruddock said.

Media Contact: Steve Ingram (02) 6277 7300 0419 278 715

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 • Telephone (02) 6277 7300 • Fax (02) 6273 4102 www.law.gov.au/ag