20 February 2004

Look back in terror

Some months ago, I blogged that retrospective laws could enable Hicks' and Mamdouh"s trial in Australia according to Australian law.

According to the AgeLatham believes:

Our view is that the two Australians should be bought back to Australia and tried under Australian laws and under an Australian standard of combating terrorism,' Mr Latham said.

The ALP would support government moves to introduce retrospective laws to allow the Guantanamo Bay prisoners to be brought back to Australia.

'We should be saying these Australian citizens who have done the wrong thing they have got to be dealt with the Australian way here in our country,' Mr Latham said.

'If the Howard government hasn't got laws in place to do that the onus in on them to put forward the laws into parliament and I am saying the opposition is there to assist in that task.'

Strangely enough, both Hicks' lawyer and the Honourable sic Philip Ruddock have raced to reject this idea, although from fundamentally different perspectives. Neither provides any critique of making retrospective laws. Ruddock seems concerned to get the ALP associated with backflips and Kenny (not unnaturally) wants his client to get off.

Kenny tells us:

Retrospective legislation doesn't work," he said. "It has never worked and it's not a satisfactory solution.

Ruddock supports him, if unintentionally, with:

Mr Ruddock is calling that a Labor back-flip and says it flies in the face of long-established legal principles.

"It indicates the way Mr Latham departs from the long-standing view of his own party," he said.

Some in Labor are concerned that their leader has floated the idea of retrospective legislation.

Mr Ruddock says it is legally almost impossible to bring in such specific back-dated laws, although now that Mr Latham has suggested it, he will look again at the idea.

He says he is willing to consider all options to strengthen Australia's anti-terrorism laws.

Drafting a bill to allow retrospective activation of the treachery offence with respect to military operations in Afghanistan would be quite easy. Of course, if the government was serious about the War on Terror, as opposed to the war on the opposition, they would have activated the treachery clause 2 years ago and this discussion would now be moot.

But then Grand Inquisitor Ruddock is the legal genius who spect a year telling us the US military commissions guarantee fair trials and when that lie was exposed by Major Mori announced that every advocate starts his case by decrying the impartiality of the court. They do not and Ruddock knows it.

Caveat, if Hicks is guilty of an offence against Australia law he should be tried and punished to the full extent of the law.

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