Council urges Australia to follow UK lead on Hicks

The Bishops' justice and peace agency has called on the Government to follow the UK's lead in pursuing "real justice" for accused Australian terrorist David Hicks.

The call coincides with the visit to Australia of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose country has secured the release of their nationals from detention at Guantanamo Bay.

Bishop Christopher Saunders, head of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, said that the injustice against Hicks "has gone on for far too long."

"Concerns about conditions at Guantanamo, the indefinite detention and the deficiencies of military trials should be a basis for action on behalf of Mr Hicks", he said.

The Bishop reiterated the Council's position on the detention of David Hicks: "We call on the Government to work for this Australian citizen by seeking a proper trial before a non-military court or returning him to Australia.

The call follows growing pressure for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay facilities. In February, a major UN Report recommended its immediate closure, with detainees to be brought before an independent and competent tribunal or released.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, have both called Guantanamo a legal anomaly that needs to end. Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has voiced concerns that human dignity is not being respected at the Guantanamo prison.

Bishop Saunders said: "International momentum is growing for the US to close its facilities at Guantanamo Bay and to afford detainees basic justice.

"The Australian Government could play its part by advocating on behalf of its citizen with the same determination as governments including Britain and Canada, which would not have their nationals exposed to the inferior justice of the military commissions", he said.

Australia should follow UK, Commonwealth lead on Hicks (Australian Catholic Social Justice Council 28/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

Bishop says Govt must ensure justice for Hicks (CathNews 22/9/05)
Hicks and Habib focus of bishop's Human Rights Day message (CathNews 10/12/04)
Council urges Govt to insist on human rights at Guantanamo Bay (CathNews 10/12/03)
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)

Australian bishop calls for restorative justice for prisoners (Independent Catholic News 21/9/05)

29 Mar 2006