David Hicks Officially Innocent
After an eight year battle since David Hicks’ release, on 19th February 2015, the US Court of Military Commission appeal formally recognised that David Hicks was innocent of any crime.
In the Hicks v. United States, 13-004 Decision (Feb 18 2015), Deputy Chief Judge Silliman stated: “The findings of guilty are set aside and dismissed, and appellant’s sentence is vacated.”
David Hicks was detained in Guantanamo Bay for five and a half years before he was forced to enter a politically orchestrated plea deal with the US government in order to secure his release. It has since come to light that the charge and plea deal was a favour for former Australian Prime Minister John Howard because David’s case had become a “political threat”.
Despite the significant evidence that has been revealed in relation to David’s torture and ill-treatment, and the politically motivated actions of the Australian government, not one official has been part of an investigation or held to account for their involvement.
In fact, the Abbott government is continuing the tradition of misleading the Australian public by stating that David’s conviction was vacated on a technicality – rather than the fact that there was no crime committed. In addition, on the day of his conviction being vacated, John Howard released a statement stating that David was a “committed jihadist” and admitted to training with al-Qaeda, despite the fact that these statements were obtained under torture. Under international law, a state party has an obligation to ensure an impartial investigation into allegations of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. It appears that the rhetoric coming from the Australian government is a diversionary tactic to try and prevent the public from asking the serious questions pertaining to David’s case.
So whilst it is fantastic news that David has now formally been cleared, the more pressing questions are not those for David, but for those members of the Australian government that were involved in keeping him in Guantanamo Bay for so many years – even when they knew how prisoners were being treated, unlawfully imprisoning him in an Australian goal for an additional seven months, even when they knew he did not commit a crime.
There must be some accountability to ensure it never happens again.