Major Michael Mori’s “forthright criticism(link to BBC News site)”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3418905.stm of the US Military Commission that is trying his client—the Australian Guantanamo prisoner, David Hicks—highlights a failure of the Australian government to protect its own citizens. The government’s refusal to demand the release of an Australian who has committed no crime under Australian law and its acquiescence in a military trial that even his military lawyer describes in terms used for ‘kangaroo courts’, weakens the rights of all Australians. Its agreement to enforce the outcome of the US trial only makes the situation worse: by agreement with the USA, Hicks will serve any prison term in Australia. The government believes, according to its Attorney General, that Hicks ‘has a case to answer’ about his association with the Taliban. But there is no case: Hicks is innocent (not culpable) under our laws and deserves the Government’s protection. The only justification that the Attorney can “offer(link to transcript of ABC Radio interview)”:http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2004/s1029591.htm for the government’s neglect of its duty to Hicks is that the law has been subsequently changed in Australia: as if prosecution by proxy could excuse this Pontius Pilate act.
Peter Gallagher is a leading Australian consultant on trade and public policy.[bio].
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