THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE HICKS SAGA HAS RENDERED THE HOWARD GOVERNMENTS CRIMES FAR MORE SERIOUS THAN ANY CRIME HICKS WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE COMMITTED.
Robert Richter in his analysis of the fiasco that has been the David Hicks saga, published in ‘The Age’ newspaper, has raised questions that go to the heart of Australia’s legal, moral and constitutional integrity particularly in relation to the way the Howard government, especially his chief minions Alexander Downer and Phillip Ruddock, have handled this entire affair from the moment Hicks was arrested.
Richter cuts straight to the chase arguing that, “Hundreds of years of what constituted the rule of law have been jettisoned so that Howard, Ruddock and Downer can pretend that Hicks is off their election agenda. Forget habeas corpus. Forget retrospective legislation. Forget coerced evidence and confessions. Forget commissions in which guilt has been predetermined. Forget prosecutors being judges in their own cause.”
Richter also specifically refers to the laws that Howard, Downer, Ruddock, et al, have breached; laws that relate to the responsibility the Australian government has to protect the rights of Australians overseas when arrested regardless of what they are alleged to have done, and also their responsibility to ensure that they are not denied and do receive a fair trial. So incensed is Richter, a renowned Melbourne barrister, he has gone on to write: “…we can only hope there will be another attorney-general in Australia who will have the guts to authorise proceedings against those who "aided, abetted, counselled or procured" the commission of the crimes to which I have referred. Let us not forget the war crimes trials after World War II, in which the German Nazi judges who prostituted their duty in the service of the political ideology that put them there were put on trial for what they did.”
The problem for Howard and his minions is that, while they may be able to prevent the beans being spilt about the detention and injustices that Hicks has received, they are unable to conceal the fact that there are beans there to actually be spilt – it’s just a matter of time.
The reality is that Hicks did not commit any crime that he could have been charged with under any US domestic law or even any Australian law. In fact the whole of the Hicks saga isn’t even about Hicks; it is more about the crimes that Howard and various ministers of his government have committed when they ignored the plight of an Australian who had been denied justice and a fair trial. It also now seems that, not only did they do nothing to ensure that Hicks did receive a fair trial; they were actually complicit in ensuring that he did not receive a fair trial.
Howard can only delay the emergence of the truth of what has happened to Hicks but he can’t ever make it go away. When eventually it does emerge – and that may well be sooner rather than later if Hicks is returned to Australia and his lawyers are then able to convince an Australian court of the injustice that has been meted to him – then the Howard government may well have to answer to the laws of Australia for the crimes that it has committed; crimes that are far more serious than any Hicks was accused of.