Time for Hicks to go home, says Bishop

It is time for the Government to increase efforts to secure a resolution to the case of Australian Guantanamo prisoner David Hicks, said Bishop Christopher Saunders, the chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council.

The Bishop was responding to reports last week that the Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said he will push for Mr Hicks to be brought home if the US does not lay fresh charges by November.

After having served with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Mr Hicks was captured by US forces in late 2001 and imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, a US base in Cuba, as an "unlawful combatant."

He had been charged with aiding the enemy, attempted murder and conspiracy, and was to have been tried by US military commission. But the US Supreme Court has ruled the commissions unlawful, forcing the US government to revamp the process.

"As the affair has dragged on, there are increasing concerns for the physical and mental health of Mr Hicks," the Bishop said.

"Reports of statements by Attorney-General Ruddock that the Australian Government will try to have Mr Hicks returned to Australia if no new charges are laid by November provide some encouragement.

"While these are welcome developments, we deplore any further detention of Mr Hicks. If he has a case to answer he should be tried without further delay by a competent and independent tribunal with all of the protections of the rule of law that Australian citizens would expect, compliant with the Geneva Conventions. Otherwise his continued indefinite detention can no longer be justified," Bishop Saunders concluded.

Mr Ruddock said this week that he and Prime Minister John Howard share concerns over the length of time of Mr Hicks' detention.

Bishop calls for justice for David Hicks (Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, 23/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Attorney-General's Briefing on David Hicks (28/7/06)
David Hicks (Wikipedia)

Bishop says Govt must ensure justice for Hicks (CathNews, 22/9/05)
Hicks and Habib focus of bishop´┐Żs 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)

23 Aug 2006