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Hicks home but Government not off the hook

On the day of David Hicks’ return UnitingJustice Australia, Amnesty International Australia, GetUp and the Australian Lawyers Alliance expressed their relief that his ordeal is almost over.

They remain concerned, however, that fundamental questions about his treatment in Guantanamo Bay and the Australian Government’s response to his situation need to be answered.

“David Hicks has been held for over five years in conditions we believe amount to torture and while David may be home soon, approximately 380 people remain in the notorious detention facility.

Rev. Elenie Poulos, National Director of UnitingJustice Australia said, “Today we express our relief that David’s experience is almost at an end and that he will soon be reunited with his family. It has been heartening to join with so many Australians who believe that all people, regardless of their crimes, deserve to be treated with dignity and given a fair trial.”

The vast majority have not been charged and continue to be held in brutal conditions,” said Katie Wood, Campaign Coordinator at Amnesty International Australia.

“This case has shown us that the rights to a fair trial and freedom of speech and the prohibition against torture are fragile and must be protected,” said Eva Scheerlinck, CEO of the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“It is only through public pressure on the Government that David Hicks is now home, and significant questions about the gag order, the constitution of the military tribunal and the human rights abuses that David and his lawyers claim he experienced, remain to be answered,” said Ms Sheerlinck.

“There has been tremendous concern that the Government did not do everything in its power to support David Hicks,” said GetUp’s Executive Director Brett Solomon.

“Australians expect their Government to stand by them if they get into trouble overseas and it is clear that many Australians believe that the Government did not do enough to protect David from an unjust and unlawful process.”