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Justice Bishop: no "kangaroo" courts for terrorists

Bishop William Morris says the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council is "deeply concerned about the nature and processes of the military commissions set up by the United States Government late last year. They appear to have no rules of evidence or rights of appeal. They are to sit in secret and are staffed by military personnel. They will have the power to impose death sentences but can convict on a standard of proof lower than ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. They are, in short, kangaroo courts". The ACSJC calls adds to growing international concern over the treatment of captured Taliban and al-Qaeda combatants.

Following the release of photographs of the prisoners and their conditions at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba by the US authorities there has been a wave of protest, particularly in Britain. The BBC has full coverage of the protests, and the photographs, on its website.

Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are currently interviewing the 110 detainees amid international concern over their treatment. The US says the ICRC has been given full access the prisoners and is being allowed to interview them privately and on a voluntary basis. Amnesty International said that, at eight-by-eight feet, the cells are below US standards for ordinary prisoners. (The BBC website shows a graphic of the wire cells topped by corrugated iron.)

The BBC reports also that "the three British al-Qaeda suspects being held at Camp X-Ray in Cuba have 'no complaints' about their treatment, according to British officials who have seen them."

Reuters reports:

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said the detainees at the Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.

Asked in a television interview whether the Taliban and al Qaeda detainees were prisoners of war, or illegal fighters as the United States maintains, Solana said:

"For us, treatment of people like this should be as laid down by the international conventions which of course, for Europeans, are part of international law... The Geneva Convention should be applied to all those who are arrested in similar circumstances," he told Spanish state television.

The British Government said on Sunday it wanted an explanation from the United States about published photographs showing prisoners tightly manacled and kneeling behind wire fences.

ACSJC: Bishop Morris Media Release

BBC coverage including the photos causing concern

Reuters coverage