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Key Terms

Alford Plea

An Alford Plea is available to a criminal defendant in the United States. An Alford Plea is not an admission of the act, but admission that the prosecution could likely prove the charge- especially in a system that admits evidence obtained under coercion. An Alford plea allows a guilty plea when the person is unable or unwilling to admit guilt. The plea maintains the person’s innocence of the offense charged.

Control Order

A Control Order is a ‘preventative measure’ controlling the movements communications and activities of a person deemed to be a terrorist risk to the public. The AFP can request a control order be issue, consent of the Attorney-General is required and then a court issues the order. Learn more.

Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus is the right to challenge the legitimacy of detention. This internationally recognised tenet of law is a fundamental safeguard against enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Geneva Convention

The Geneva Convention is key international law that defines the regulations of war. The convention includes a definition of a prisoner of war (POW) and how they are to be treated. Many international debates ensued as to whether David and the other Guantanamo detainees were POWs, how they should be treated etc.

Military Commissions

Military Commissions operate outside conventional criminal and civil courts, they are designed for use in wartime to try enemy forces. The entire system operates within the military, with charges brought by military authorities, prosecution carried out by a military authority and with military officers acting as judges. NOTE: The Military Commissions used by the US in Guantanamoare not normal military commissions – they do not operate from the Uniform Code of Military Justice – and do not afford the same legal protections.

Retroactive Criminal Laws

Retroactive criminal laws is the U.S term for applying charges retrospectively. Meaning that a person can be charged for an action that was not a recognised crime at the time it occurred, but has since been declared to be a criminal act. Retrospective criminal laws are prohibited under international law at all times; in peace and in times of national emergency.

Torture – defined by the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT)

Torture is any act by which severe pain or suffering whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

Unlawful Enemy Combatant

The term Unlawful Enemy Combatant does not appear in the Geneva Convention and was a special status created in the Military Commissions Act 2006. A person’s status as an unlawful enemy combatant is decided internally in the military through the Combatant Status Review Tribunal. To be found as such, a person can be detained far from the actual conflict, may have provided financial support to a combatant and a host of other possibilities. Unlawful enemy combatants were deemed by the Bush administration to be outside the protections of the Geneva Conventions.