Jan. 26, 2004 – Australian Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown has called on the Australian Government to repatriate the two Australian detainees currently held in Guantanamo Bayâ€™s Camp Delta to face trial in Australia, according to a Greens press release.
Australian nationals David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib have been held at the Cuban detention center without charge for over two years under suspicion of links to terror groups according to Steven Kenny, the lawyer appointed by Hicksâ€™ family. Kenny told Agence France Press, â€œIt appears to me Saddam Hussein is going to be afforded a fairer system of justice than what David Hicks will receive.â€�
The Guantanamo Bay naval base, used by the US military since January 11, 2002 to house the Camp Delta detention camp for terror suspects, has attracted international criticism due to the US governmentâ€™s flouting of international law in its treatment of detainees. According to Human Rights Watch, some 660 detainees, including an undisclosed number of minors, are still held without charge at the camp in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention. The prisoners are being held in 1.8m x 2.4 open sided wire cells described by Human Rights Watch as â€œa scandal.â€�
â€œThere have been no hearings to determine the legal status of detainees and no judicial review â€” in short, no legal process at allâ€¦Whoever the detainees are â€” including those implicated in international terrorism â€” the United States is obligated to respect their fundamental rights under law,â€� said the human rights group.
Leading a chorus of criticism from activist and human rights groups, Brown criticized the government for failing to act on behalf of its citizens and said in the press release that â€œthe difference between Australia and the USA here is that Australians will not easily allow their government to fabricate the law for political purposes.â€�
Brown added, â€œClearly the US legal process itself should be in the dock."
Brownâ€™s comments came after the American military counsel appointed to defend Hicks, Major Michael Mori, launched a stinging attack on the military judicial system set up by the Pentagon to try the Guantanamo Bay suspects in a press conference late last week. Mori cast doubt on the impartiality of the tribunal, telling reporters, "The military commissions will not provide a full and fair trial. The commission process has been created and controlled by those with a vested interest only in convictions."
Mori agreed with human rights activists across the world, saying, "Using the commission process just creates an unfair system that threatens to convict the innocent and provides the guilty a justifiable complaint as to their convictions."
Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock has dismissed the Majorâ€™s criticism on the ABC program A.M. â€œ[Major Mori] is giving Mr Hicks the best defense that he can, and one of the ways in which defense lawyers often put their case on behalf of their client is to advocate about the nature of the system which is dealing with them.â€�