The United Nations Human Rights Commission has declared Australia violated the rights of former David Hicks by keeping him in jail for several months under a transfer deal agreed with the US authorities.
The UN also said the sentence imposed on David Hicks was the result of a “flagrant denial of justice”.
Fabian Salvioli, Chair of the UN Human Rights Committee said transfer agreements are important, because they allow prisoners convicted abroad to serve their sentences in their own country. But States should not carry out a sentence if there is ample evidence that the trial clearly violated the defendant’s rights, as was the case with Mr. Hicks,”
Mr Salvioli said that by the time Hicks was transferred, there was a lot of information available that raised serious concerns about the fairness of the procedures by the US Military Commission. “That should have been enough to cast doubt among the Australian authorities as to the legality and legitimacy of the sentence imposed on him,”
In an affidavit, dated 5 August 2004 and released on 10 December 2004, Hicks alleged mistreatment by U.S. forces, included being:
• beaten while blindfolded and handcuffed
• forced to take unidentified medication
• sedated by injection without consent
• struck while under sedation
• regularly forced to run in leg shackles causing ankle injury
• deprived of sleep “as a matter of policy”
• sexually assaulted
• witness to use of attack dogs to brutalise and injure detainees.
Colonel Morris Davis, the former Pentagon chief prosecutor, later alleged political interference in the case by the Bush administration in the United States and the Howard government in Australia.He said that Hicks should not have been prosecuted.
The United Nations has said that since Australia is party to the ICCPR, Australia is obliged to make full reparations to individuals whose rights have been violated. In Mr. Hicks’ case, Australia’s actions regarding the transfer arrangement were intended to help him and did in fact mitigate the harm he would have suffered had he remained in US custody, and so the finding of a violation was sufficient reparation, the Committee noted.
David Hicks was arrested in Afghanistan in 2001 and sent to the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in January 2002. In March 2007, after pleading guilty under a Plea Agreement, he was convicted under the US Military Commission Act 2006 with “providing material support for terrorism” and given a seven-year sentence, most of it suspended.