10 April 2007


"'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first verdict afterwards'"- (from Lewis Carroll’s 'Alice in Wonderland')

Whilst the saga of David Hick’s imprisonment seems to be moving to a pleasing resolution for him and his family, many questions remain unanswered about the whole affair.

At times the bizarre nature of the proceedings have more resembled a scene from 'Alice in Wonderland' than the system of justice that has been developed slowly and painfully over centuries in western democracies.

The key issue has never been about David Hicks himself, but about the fundamental rights and dignity to which every person is entitled, and the responsibility of governments to respect those rights and uphold the law.

It is puzzling that Hicks could be held for five years, much of it effectively in solitary confinement, and demonized as one of the worst of the worst of dangerous terrorists but ultimately be offered a nine month sentence in an Australian gaol – shorter than a sentence he might receive for failure to pay a traffic fine.

With the prospect of immediate removal from Guantanamo Bay and the guarantee he would be free by the new year if willing to plead guilty, there was little likelihood Hicks would risk ongoing indefinite incarceration by maintaining his innocence especially in the face of a process that has always seemed designed to predetermine his guilt.

Unfortunately the evidence against him will now never be tested, nor will his claims of being tortured, forever leaving questions about his guilt and suspicions of a political cover-up.

Even when David Hicks is released, the continued holding of hundreds of other alleged 'enemy combatants' in Guantanamo Bay remains an issue of concern. Recently several senior figures in the Administration of President Bush including Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice have reportedly urged the closure of the Guantanamo Bay facility described by visiting US author and nun Sr Helen Prejean as "an aberration and a corruption of US values".

You can add your voice to the call to close Guantanamo Bay by supporting the Avaaz online petition.

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