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Unfair Trial For David Hicks Gets Green Light

21 September 2005

Unfair Trial For David Hicks Gets Green Light

Amnesty International Australia (AIA) today expressed concern that the way has now been paved for David Hicks to face an unfair trial.

“The military commissions cannot deliver fair trials and consequently a just outcome. The changes made to the commission procedures announced on 31 August 2005 do nothing to bring the trials in line with internationally agreed standards for fair trials.

“It is appalling that the Australian Government has allowed its national, David Hicks, to face these commissions, something which the US and UK Governments did not accept for their citizens,” said AIA Human Rights and Security Campaign Coordinator, Katie Wood.

Amnesty International’s serious concerns with the military commissions include:

- The commissions lack independence from the executive branch of the US Administration. David Hicks and others who face military commission trials can only appeal decisions to the person who referred them to trial in the first place: the US President.

- Lack of proper rules of evidence mean that second hand evidence and evidence obtained by coercion or torture can be used against David Hicks and others charged.

- The charges laid against David Hicks do not exist in international law. Some have been framed incorrectly, others do not represent violations of the laws of war.

Amnesty International (AI) calls on the US Administration to revoke the Military Order creating the commissions. It calls on the Australian Government to withdraw its support for these trials.

Amnesty International will be sending an independent legal observer, Ms Jumana Musa, to observe the trials. Ms Musa was present at the preliminary trials late last year before they were suspended by a US District Court ruling in December 2004.

Amnesty International unreservedly condemns attacks on civilians by armed groups. But, the threat of terrorism in no way justifies a lower standard of justice for those suspected of terrorism related offences.

The route to security must be through human rights and the rule of law. This cannot be achieved through the current military commission process.


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