LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire –
24 July 2007
As debate over the treatment of Dr Mohamed Haneef rages, the Law Council will today release a report into the case of another citizen who has fallen foul of a system of badly conceived, badly drafted and badly enforced laws – former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks.
The report, prepared by Lex Lasry QC in his role as independent observer for the Law Council, reveals that Mr Hicks’ hearings before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay were, for the most part, a contrived affair, played out for the benefit of the media and public.
Releasing the report in Melbourne today, Law Council President Tim Bugg said, “Notwithstanding years of design and re-design, the military commission process could not rise above its flaws to provide anything remotely like an internationally acceptable justice system.”
Mr Lasry agreed, saying, “The very real prospect of people being condemned to death and executed by such a system is truly ‘Kafkaesque’. It reflects shame on the Howard Government, which supported the military commissions. That this support was provided for political purposes is demonstrably clear.”
According to Mr Bugg, echoes of the military commission experiment were now being heard in Australia in the context of new anti-terrorism laws and the detention of Dr Haneef.
“There’s an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ quality to both these cases – ‘First the sentence, then the verdict’. Mr Hicks and Mr Haneef both know what that feels like,” Mr Bugg said.
“Mr Hicks spent five and a half years in detention, two without legal representation and two and a half before he was even charged, until a political solution had to be found for his situation.”
“This report is very critical of the military commission processes – and rightly so. The David Hicks case, despite the fact that it’s no longer on the front pages of our newspapers, will forever be a stain on Australia’s reputation on rule of law issues,” Mr Bugg concluded.
Mr Lasry’s report is available at www.lawcouncil.asn.au/hicksjustice.html