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Council urges Govt to insist on human rights at Guantanamo Bay

The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has issued a Human Rights Day call on the Federal Government to do more to secure the fundamental rights of two Australians detained by American authorities at Guantanamo Bay.

Council Chairman Bishop Christopher Saunders said that for two years, David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib have been denied the protection of the third Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, international laws to which the US and Australia are party.

"Our Government recently won significant concessions for the Australians should they appear before a US military commission - not least of which is protection from the death penalty," he said. "However, strong concerns remain about lax rules of evidence, lack of judicial review and appeal rights which will impede natural justice."

Bishop Saunders said Human Rights Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the human rights that underpin the Australian way of life.

"It is also a time to review significant challenges to basic rights that belong to all human beings," he said. "The detention of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib without charge, without recourse to justice and in dreadful conditions is one such challenge."

"More must be done to restore the human dignity of these Australian citizens", Bishop Saunders said. "Australians believe that citizens are entitled to the presumption of innocence and the protection of the rule of law regardless of the charges that may be laid against them."

Human Rights - Even at Guantanamo Bay (Australian Catholic Social Justice Council 9/12/03)

Plea offer likely soon, says Hicks's lawyer (Sydney Morning Herald 10/12/03)
Hicks may see lawyer (ABC TV 7:30 Report 9/12/03)
Bishop says Govt can do more for Hicks and Habib (13/11/03)
Press Council backs church official on unfair "traitor" headline (CathNews 14/11/03)
Fair Go for David
David Hicks: Human Rights on Trial (ABC Radio Background Briefing 13/7/03)

10 Dec 2003