UN experts find Australia violated rights of former Guantanamo detainee News
UN experts find Australia violated rights of former Guantanamo detainee

The Australian government violated the rights [press release] of former Guantanamo detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] when they continued to detain him after a transfer deal with the US, the UN Human Rights Committee [official website] said in a report [text, DOC] released Tuesday. Hicks was captured in Afghanistan by northern alliance forces shortly after September 11, 2011, and then sold to the US military and brought to the detention facility in Guantanamo the day that it opened. He pleaded guilty in 2007 to providing material support to terrorism was was transferred to Australia in May 2007 to serve the remainder of his prison sentence at a maximum security prison near his hometown of Adelaide, South Australia. He was released [JURIST reports] in December 2007. Hicks argued that because the US and Australia had a bilateral transfer agreement, the Australian authorities violated his rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text] by keeping him incarcerated seven months without doing everything it could to ensure his sentence was fair and just. The committee stated in its report:

[I]n order to escape the violations to which he was subjected, the author had no other choice than to accept the terms of the plea agreement that was put to him. It was therefore incumbent on the State party to show that it did everything possible to ensure that the terms of the transfer arrangement that had been negotiated with the United States did not cause it to violate the Covenant, particularly as the author was one of its nationals. In the absence of such a showing, the Committee considers that, by accepting to give effect to the remainder of the sentence imposed under the plea agreement and deprive the author of his liberty for seven months, the State party violated the author’s rights.

The committee also found that Hicks is entitled to appropriate reparations for his injuries.

In 2014 Hicks filed a motion [text, PDF] to dismiss his conviction [JURIST report] in the US Court of Military Commission Review [official website] after the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] ruled in 2012 in Hamdan v. United States [opinion, PDF] that material support for terrorism is not a war crime and, thus, is beyond the jurisdiction of military commissions. Hicks has sold approximately 30,000 copies of his book, Guantanamo, My Journey [publisher materials], which chronicles his time at Guantanamo and in the Australian prison. In 2011 the New South Wales Supreme Court [official website] froze all assets [SMH report] arising out of the sale of the book, but those proceedings were later dropped.