07 December 2006

Slight movement on the Hicks front?

The Age yesterday reported that David Hicks's Australian lawyers have been granted an urgent hearing in the Federal Court to hear a claim that the Australian government has failed to provide adequate assistance to an Australian abroad. The matter will be heard on 15 December. The story is updated today: see here.

News.com.au recently reported that Coalition MPs have raised the matter with the PM in a joint parties meeting.

Tim Dunlop at Blogocracy has also discussed the situation, reiterating with his characteristic succinctness that the central issue is the rule of law:

Any reasonable person concerned about the war on terror would understand that a commitment to the rule of law is basic to our understanding of ourselves as a democratic nation in that fight. And yet, the Howard Government has let Mr Hicks languish in the prison at Guantanamo Bay rather than insist that the Bush Administration release him from this legal limbo.

The comments (52 as I post this) are worth reading, not least for the misapprehensions which seem to persist among some members of the public, eg that Hicks fought in Iraq. There are still those who support the "keep him in Guantanamo and throw away the key" view.

It's ironic that these views are underpinning the continuing casuistry of Attorney-General Ruddock, who is supposed to support the rule of law here. He is taking refuge in the position that it's US, not Australian, law which is applicable, and that it's the continued quibbling by the detainees's lawyers which is delaying justice. I don't recall hearing him say anything like this about other matters where cases take a long time to go through the full range of appeals to higher courts.

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