4 July 2003

Hicks to face military tribunal
TANYA NOLAN: And from Roma in Queensland today, Prime Minister John Howard made clear his confidence in the American system of justice.

JOHN HOWARD: I am satisfied on the information that I have that if any Australians are tried in the United States, the basic conditions of a presumption of innocence, of access to a lawyer and so forth, all of the things that are basic to the judicial system as we understand it, will be applied.

TANYA NOLAN: But that's cold comfort to Stephen Kenny.

STEPHEN KENNY: The Attorney-General has done nothing for the two Australians that were there for the last 18 months while their human rights were being abused, so I can certainly have no faith in him doing anything now.

TANYA NOLAN: Do you know with any certainty whether the outcome of a military commission could indeed result in a death penalty being handed down?

STEPHEN KENNY: Yes, it can. The military commission does have the power to hand down death penalties and the reports from the United States in recent weeks have been that they are currently planning construction of an execution chamber in Guantanamo Bay.

It raises some very serious fears in my mind because it's even worse than that. It's not just that the military tribunal are in a position of handing down a death penalty. After the hearing at the military tribunal, the matter is then referred to President Bush for his final determination and so he could personally impose the death sentence.

I would have thought even Australia's own man of steel might have looked more carefully at information provided by the Bush administration. After all, Howard is fast moving towards 'George told me' as a complete explanation of the missing WMDs. Abandoning Australian citizens to trial by drumhead court is evil enough. Lying about the procedural guarantees is worse. Scrapping Australia's long and principled opposition to the death penalty is the worst of all.

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