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Archive for May, 2019

May 30th, 2019 by admin

Hicks to claim UK citizenship

Hicks has been charged with “material support for terrorism” and referred to trial by a special military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon said.

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In the meantime British Lawyer Stephen Grosz will bring an appeal before UK immigration courts in May in another bid to have the terror suspect granted UK citizenship.

Hicks was granted British citizenship in July last year but the British Home Secretary immediately took it away on national security grounds.

The US government has released other UK citizens from Guantanamo following pressure from the British government.

It is hoped that if Hicks were granted UK citizenship it would force the British government to also lobby for his release.

Mr Grosz told ABC radio today that Hicks had his British citizenship removed by the Home Secretary on the basis of statements the Australian made to UK security services in April

2003.

But he will argue those statements were obtained under coercion or through torture and should therefore be inadmissible.

Mr Grosz said statements about torture in Guantanamo Bay to be tendered in the UK case could have an impact on the military commission process.

“Assuming that the trial does go ahead I would certainly expect it would cast considerable doubt on the safety of any conviction which was obtained by the military commission if it were based on evidence that had been discredited in the United Kingdom after the hearing of very substantial evidence,” Mr Grosz said.

The British lawyer said he would detail allegations of beatings, threats by guards with guns, hooding, shackling, the use of drugs and sexual humiliation.

He will also give details of a practice known as “earthing” which is said to involve several armed marines rushing into a detainee’s cell to deliver a beating.

Mr Grosz claimed many of these beatings had been filmed.

“All these earthings are recorded on video and somewhere in the

United States in the department of defence there exists hours and hours of video evidence of these earthings,” he said.

May 30th, 2019 by admin

Hicks trial 'legally baseless'

Hicks was charged today with "material support for terrorism" and referred to trial by a special military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon said.

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Major Michael Mori, who is in Melbourne, today said the dismissal of the attempted murder charge was an admission by the US commission system that all the charges laid against Hicks were made up and had no basis in law and fact.

"It's disgusting that he has spent five years in Guantanamo for made-up charges," Maj Mori told reporters in Melbourne.

"Now they are doing it again. They are repeating history by creating a new crime after the fact and trying to apply it to David retroactively.

"This is something that the attorney general in Australia has said is completely inappropriate.

"I want to speak to the Attorney General's Department to make sure they understand the nature of the charge, the illegality of this new charge.

"It's about time they took some action and just didn't rely on US assurances in the matter.

Major Mori said the serious charges the American military originally accused Hicks of two years ago no longer stand.

"None of the original charges – conspiracy, aiding the enemy and attempted murder by an unprivileged belligerent – have been recharged.

"This is an admission by the US that there was no basis for the original charges and that the US had no justification to hold David for five years on those made-up offences.

"David has been charged with only one offence – material support of terrorism.

"The material support charge has never existed in the laws of war.

"It was created in October 2006.

"The US is applying this offence to David retrospectively even though Australian (government) ministers have said that is inappropriate.

"Prosecutors claim the offence of material support has been on the books for years, but they are talking about a US domestic offence, of which David is not charged.

"If you put the military commission offence and the federal offence of material support of terrorism side by side, they are not the same offence.

"If the (Australian) government's position is that the commission and US federal offences of material support are the same, and therefore not retrospective, then prosecutors could have charged David five years ago in US federal court rather than let him rot in Guantanamo.

"All this time, we have been told that David had to be tried by military commission rather than in a federal court because the offences were war crimes.

"But after five years, the US has not charged David with a single war crime."

Adelaide-born Hicks, 31, is expected to make his first appearance before a military commission in the next month.

Hicks has spent more than five years at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was picked up in Afghanistan in late

2001.

"After five years in Guantanamo, David has no hope of facing a fair trial, which would have been provided to an American a long time ago," Major Mori said.

"Australians deserve the same protections as Americans, yet David has yet to receive them and the Australian government has yet to demand that he does."

May 30th, 2019 by admin

Govt endorsing rights for gays

The Prime Minister's office is preparing a cabinet submission on the issue after a concerted campaign by Liberal MPs, The Australian reports.

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It is understood major elements of the package include equal access to the Medicare safety net and the couples' rate threshold for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Under current laws, married or de facto heterosexual couples without children qualify for the 80 per cent rebate under the Medicare safety net after reaching $716 in out-of-pocket expenses between them.

But same-sex partners are not considered a couple, which means their expenses have to be double before they qualify for the safety net.

The Australian reports that discrimination in migration law, social security and tax could also form part of the reform plan, including the superannuation contribution rebate.

Meanwhile, the Australian Greens have tried to revive the civil unions debate by introducing a bill that would give same-sex couples the same legal recognition as married couples.

In parliament today, Greens Senator Kerry Nettle introduced the Marriage (Relationships Equality) Amendment Bill, which proposes changing the Marriage Act to define marriage as "the union of two persons, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity, voluntarily entered into for life".

In her second reading speech tabled in parliament today, Senator Nettle said freedom of sexuality and gender identity was a fundamental human right.

"Australians of diverse sexuality or gender identity should immediately gain the legal right to marry, to publicly proclaim and celebrate their love and commitment, and ensure full legal and social recognition of their relationship," she said.

Debate on the bill was adjourned.

May 30th, 2019 by admin

Hicks detention is challenged

The federal opposition has questioned the legality of Australian David Hicks' five-year detention at Guantanamo Bay, saying the charge he faces did not apply to non-US citizens until last year.

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The United States charged the Australian today with providing material support for terrorism, making him the first detainee in the war on terror era to be charged under the new US law for military commissions.

Hicks will face court within a month, but a charge of attempted murder has been dropped.

Labor's attorney-general spokesman Kelvin Thomson said the charge against Hicks was not part of the laws of war until last year.

"It makes you wonder on what basis he has been held legally for the past five years," Mr Thomson told reporters in Melbourne.

"The military commission's act of 2006 applied this offence of material support for terrorism to non-US citizens and did so with retrospective effect.

"Now the Howard government has been claiming all along that it would require retrospective legislation in order to try David Hicks in Australia and this would be wrong.

"Why is it not okay to charge David Hicks with retrospective offences under Australian law yet apparently it is okay to charge David Hicks retrospectively at Guantanamo Bay?"

Mr Thomson said the government needed to end the double-standard and tell the US it was unacceptable to charge Hicks under retrospective law.

"He can have that fair trial in the US under American law, he can have that fair trial in Australia under Australian law but he will not receive a fair trial at Guantanamo Bay," he said.

"If Guantanamo Bay is not good enough for American citizens, it is not good enough for an Australian citizen either."

May 30th, 2019 by admin

PM quizzed by Terry Hicks

Terry Hicks rang a talkback radio station while Mr Howard was on air to ask him about his son's case.

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"How come the Americans can drop one charge and then lay a charge that's been retrospected to cover these charges against David, when the Australian government keeps saying they can't retrospect the law to bring David back to face charges?" Terry Hicks asked.

David Hicks was charged today with providing material support for terrorism and referred to stand trial by a special military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon said.

But a second charge of attempted murder was dismissed after Judge Susan Crawford concluded there was no "probable cause" to justify it.

Mr Howard denied that the charge of providing material support to terrorism was retrospective and said the other charge had been dropped because it could not be proven.

"The reason why apparently the attempted murder charge had been dropped is that the presiding authority is not satisfied that it could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt against your son," Mr Howard told Mr Hicks.

He said charges can be dropped " in those circumstances, just as frequently happens in Australia when directors of public prosecutions at a state and commonwealth level decide not to proceed with a case, not because there's no evidence, but because they believe there is insufficient evidence to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt".

"And that, may I say, demonstrates another point – that contrary to what many people have said, the beyond reasonable doubt and the presumption of innocence does exist in relation to this military commission process."

Mr Howard told Mr Hicks that the Americans had sped up his son's trial process following Mr Howard's personal appeals to US President George W Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney.

"I have raised on two occasions in conversations with President Bush over the past month my concern, my great concern, at the delay and I raised it with Vice-President Cheney," Mr Howard said.

"I can tell you that David Hicks is the first one to be dealt with in this fashion under the new military commission.

"It is quite obvious that the process has been accelerated and we will continue to press the Americans to keep their foot on the accelerator."

Mr Howard said he was not happy at the delay but the government decided several years ago that justice was better served by having Hicks appear before a military commission.

"If we'd have brought David Hicks back to Australia, he could not be charged unless we retrospectively created a criminal offence, which we were not willing to do," he said.