Australia Guantanamo detainee Hicks petitions UN over alleged rights violations
Australia Guantanamo detainee Hicks petitions UN over alleged rights violations
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[JURIST] Former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] has filed an appeal [text, PDF] with the UN Human Rights Committee [official website] complaining of multiple violations of international law stemming from his five-year incarceration at Guantanamo from 2002 to 2007. Hicks, an Australian national, is asking the Australian government to “request the US authorities to formally overturn” his 2007 conviction on charges of aiding terrorism before a US military court and nullify the plea deal [JURIST reports] from which the conviction arose. The 107-page document, authored on his behalf by human rights lawyer and Sydney Law School [academic website] professor Ben Saul [academic profile], also asks for a federal investigation into the treatment to which Hicks alleges he was subjected while in US custody. Among the allegations are that Hicks was drugged, beaten and sexually abused while at Guantanamo, and that he was coerced into his plea deal without access to evidence. The pleading further avers that for its compliance with US authorities, the Australian government was complicit in numerous human rights violations against Hicks under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [text]. The plea concludes that:

Australia should compensate Mr. Hicks for the violation of his … rights, and in particular for seven months of unlawful, arbitrary detention in Australia and for the restrictions imposed upon his liberty and freedom by the imposition of a control order…. Australia should provide an assurance to Mr. Hicks that its law enforcement authorities will not seek to confiscate any literary proceeds which Mr. Hicks may derive from publishing or otherwise communicating for profit the story of this trial, conviction and related conduct.

Hicks has sold approximately 30,000 copies of his book, Guantanamo, My Journey [publisher materials], which chronicles his time at Guantanamo and the subsequent seven-month sentence he served in an Australian prison under a control order imposed by the country conditional to his release from US custody. Earlier this month, the New South Wales Supreme Court [official website] froze all assets [Sydney Morning Herald report] arising out of the sale of the book.

Australian authorities removed the final restrictions against Hicks [JURIST report] in December 2008. Following his guilty plea, Hicks was transferred to Australia in May 2007 to serve the remainder of his nine-month prison sentence at a maximum security prison near his hometown of Adelaide, South Australia, and was released [JURIST reports] in December 2007. The control order was relaxed [JURIST report] in February 2008, permitting Hicks to live anywhere in the country, and requiring him to check in with police only twice a week.