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Hicks' case going to Supreme Court - important first step.

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Senator Brian Greig Australian Democrats Spokesperson for Attorney General & Justice 11 November 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/808

Hicks’ case going to Supreme Court - important first step

The Australian Democrats welcome the announcement that the United States Supreme Court will determine whether detainees at Guantanamo Bay can challenge the legality of their detention in US courts, but regardless of the outcome, the full rights and responsibilities of prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention should still apply.

Democrats’ Attorney-General and Justice Spokesperson, Senator Brian Greig, says although this matter has previously been considered by lower courts, it is important for a determination to be made by the United States’ most superior court.

“The US deliberately chose to detain these men at Guantanamo Bay so they would not have any rights under US law or any access to US courts,” Senator Greig said.

“It is good news that the Supreme Court will now have the opportunity to determine whether this is really the case.

“The reason the Guantanamo Bay regime is so unique is that the detainees have not been classified as prisoners of war so are therefore left without any protection under international law. They are effectively in legal limbo between international law and US domestic law, with no rights under either.

“The right of a person to challenge the basis of their imprisonment in a court of law is a foundational principle of the common law,” Senator Greig said.

“When the US established Camp X-Ray, it did everything it could to ensure that detainees would be denied this right.

“Ultimately this is a legal matter which must be determined by the Courts however, the fact that the Supreme Court has agreed to consider this application is an important first step,” Senator Greig said.

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