Try Hicks or bring him home, Bishops tell Govt

Describing as "unacceptable" the situation of David Hicks, who has now been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for five years, Australia's bishops say that if Hicks has a case to answer he should be tried without further delay.

The statement notes that Mr Hicks has been detained without trial at the US military base Guantanamo Bay in Cuba since 2001, "with no ability to contest the accusations against him".

"There is now heightened concern for his physical and mental health, in conditions which reputable human rights agencies have said are tantamount to torture", says the statement, which was released following the bishops' November Plenary Meeting in Sydney.

Calling for Hicks to be given a prompt and just trial or returned to Australia, the bishops said that if Hicks has a case to answer, "he should be tried without further delay by a competent and independent tribunal with protections of the rule of law that all Australians would expect".

"A continuation of the current situation is not acceptable," the Bishops say.

"Australia has a duty as a member of the world community to uphold standards of justice and decency. Historically, Australia and its allies have a proud record in supporting these principles, both within and outside their borders."

The Bishops called on the Australian and US Governments to resolve the issue urgently.

Statement from the Australian Catholic Bishops on the detention of David Hicks (Media Release, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 1/12/06)
Bishops: Give Hicks prompt trial or send him home (Adelaide Now, 2/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
David Hicks (Wikipedia)

Cardinal Pell calls for fair trial for David Hicks (CathNews, 10/10/06)
Time for Hicks to go home, says Bishop (CathNews 23/8/06)
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 (CathNews 13/11/03)
Press Council backs church official on unfair "traitor" headline (CathNews 14/11/03)

4 Dec 2006