From - Amnesty International

Media release     Wednesday 12 January 2005

Amnesty International repeats its call to the Australian Government to ensure an independent investigation is conducted into allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Australian detainee Mamdouh Habib, who is due for release without charge.

Such an investigation must be extended to the treatment of fellow Australian detainee, David Hicks, who is scheduled to face trial before the fundamentally flawed military commissions in March this year.

Mamdouh Habib has been unlawfully held without charge at Guantanamo Bay for three years. Amnesty International cautioned the Australian Government that the release and repatriation must ensure necessary human rights safeguards.

“The legal limbo to which detainees and their families have been subjected has been an affront to the rule of law and caused considerable suffering”, said Andrew Beswick, Amnesty International Australia spokesperson. “An end to the harsh, isolating and indefinite detention in the case of Mamdouh Habib and four Britons, is a positive development as is any alleviation of the distress of family members”.

Amnesty International calls on Attorney General Philip Ruddock to give details on the apparent guarantees that the Australian Government have made to the US Administration to secure Mamdouh Habib's release.

Governments which receive their nationals back from Guantánamo Bay must abide fully with their international obligations. Such returnees should be released unless they are to be promptly charged with recognisably criminal offences and brought to trial in full accordance with international standards for fair trial.  Governments should ensure that all claims of torture and ill-treatment made by such returnees are fully investigated. Appropriate medical care should be provided and the right to reparation should be ensured.

Allegations of torture and ill-treatment by US forces continue to emerge in the context of the "war on terror". Amnesty International continues to call for a commission of inquiry into all aspects of the USA's "war on terror" detention and interrogation policies and practices, including at Guantánamo Bay.

All those held in Guantánamo should be brought to fair trial -- which precludes trial by military commission -- or else released.  No one should be transferred to a country or situation where he would be at risk of human rights abuses.

Hundreds of detainees remain in detention without charge by the USA not only in Guantanamo but in Iraq, Afghanistan and in secret locations. All must be treated humanely and afforded all their rights and should be charged or released. All secret and incommunicado detentions must end.

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