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Thursday, 8 February 2007
Page: 8

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (9:30 AM) —When I spoke to my wife on Tuesday evening she was quite emotional. She had just witnessed on television the lawyer for David Hicks accounting his most recent visit to Guantanamo Bay. As he departed after a four-day visit he commented on the look of total frustration in Hicks’s eyes and his own inability to help defend him. Also we know that the US, in typical fashion, gave him the long awaited charges the next day, when the lawyer had departed. My wife is not alone. The Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney recently wrote:

Synod expresses its concern over the continued indefinite detention of Australian citizen, David Hicks, in Guantanamo Bay and the lengthy delays in bringing him to trial. It calls upon the Federal Government to make representations to the Government of the United States to have Mr Hicks brought promptly before a properly constituted civil court.

Similarly, Bishop Christopher Saunders of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council commented:

The manner in which Mr Hicks has been treated and the torture he has endured is a level of treatment that is completely unacceptable to anybody who holds in high regard due processes of law and the rights in any real democracy.

The US Supreme Court in June last year determined the illegality of the then US practices. That was with the background of warnings from early 2003 by the Red Cross as to conditions there. By October 2003 one-fifth of inmates/detainees were on Prozac. The government of this country has failed palpably in regard to these matters. The Attorney-General of this country argues that the retrospective legislation which is improper apparently to try Hicks in Australia is not too bad in the United States, because of its alleged codification. We have a situation where evidence obtained under torture is admissible and where the balance of admission of evidence is reversed. For five years this person has not been charged. The UK Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith commented:

Fair trial is one of those [principles]—which is the reason that we in the UK were unable to accept that the US military tribunals proposed for those detained at Guantanamo Bay offered sufficient guarantees of a fair trial in accordance with international standards.

Unfortunately, the government of this country has failed to stand up for its citizens. If we are in an international battle with regard to the minds of the Islamic world, if we are trying to persuade them that the Western practices of democracy and fair trial are preferable, then obviously we have been derelict in standing up for this citizen. He, like most others, has as a maximum only two 30-minute breaks from his cell each week. He is being strapped to the floor for endless periods and he has not had free independent access to medical professionals. (Time expired)