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Govt's response to Hicks overdue

Govt's response to Hicks overdue

The Australian Government has failed to respond to former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks' submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee within the stipulated six-month time frame.…

The Australian Government has failed to respond to former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks' submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee within the stipulated six-month time frame.

Lodged in September last year but only recently made public, Hicks' submission alleges that the Australian Government violated a series of human rights obligations which it owed to Hicks under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"The complaint is not directed at the United States. It's directed at Australia's involvement in [Hicks'] treatment. Specifically, that is his retrospective criminal punishment by detaining him in a prison on a retrospective offence in an Australian prison," said the submission author, barrister and professor of international law at the Sydney Centre for International Law at the University of Sydney, Dr Ben Saul.

"It also alleges that Australia was involved in supporting, in various ways, the unfair trial which he received at the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay. This is because of the various forms of involvement that the Australian authorities had in negotiating and dealing with the disposal of the case involving David."

According to Saul, the Government's response to Hicks' submission is already three months late and therefore a response is expected "any day now".

"I would say that's in fact a violation of the Committee's procedural rules which require Australia to respond within six months," he said.

Once the Australian Government has presented its view on the submission, Hicks then has an opportunity to respond to the Government's view before the Human Rights Committee makes a decision.

Briana Everett

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