DAVID HICKS is promising to become an even bigger embarrassment to the Australian Government as he edges closer to British citizenship and potential freedom. While Hicks currently appears to be rapidly becoming a child of two nations loved by none, his steady progress to British citizenship is leaving the Australian Government in a bad light. The British Home Office last week announced its intention to appeal the UK Court of Appeal’s decision that Hicks is entitled to British citizenship. It has until 25 April to do so.
Despite the Home Office’s obvious enthusiasm to stop Hicks’ name from appearing on the role of its citizenship, the Law Council of Australia has pointed out that British authorities appear more concerned with Hicks’ fate than his own country’s government. Subject to whether the appeal goes ahead, the Guantanamo Bay detainee will be free to apply for British citizenship and then invite the British Government to follow its own precedent and make representations to the US for his release — something the Australian Government has so far steadfastly refused to do. The British Government refused to allow all other British detainees at Guantanamo Bay to face trial by military commission and they were all eventually released.
Law Council president John North said, “As an Australian citizen, Mr Hicks should not have to rely on another nation for help, yet this is exactly what is transpiring. It is embarrassing that the Australian Government has washed its hands of Mr Hicks.”
North appealed to the Australian Government to do all it can now to help Britain fast-track Hicks’ quest for citizenship. British officials have been seeking permission to interview Hicks at Guantanamo Bay so that he can swear an oath of allegiance to the Crown, but have apparently been blocked by US authorities.
“The Law Council urges the Australian Government to step in and help facilitate access by British authorities to Mr Hicks. After neglecting one of its own citizens for more than four years, this is certainly the least the Australian Government should do,” Mr North said.
“The Law Council has no view of Hicks’ innocence or guilt, but after four-and-a-half years in detention without trial, it is simply not possible for the 30-year-old to now receive a fair trial, even in a properly constituted court, let alone a deeply flawed military commission,” North concluded.