Source : - ABC News Online

January 19, 2007

The Opposition says the Federal Government should not accept the new rules for the military trial of non-American detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The Pentagon has released the guidelines, which allow hearsay evidence and information gathered under coercion to be admitted.

Australian detainee David Hicks is expected to face new charges soon.

Labor's Kelvin Thomson says the new rules are very similar to the guidelines of the previous military commission, which were overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

"The Australian Government should not accept these guidelines, why does the Australian Government accept what no other Western country does," he said.

"The United States' Military Commission Act expressly stipulates that no American citizen can be dealt with by the military commission, so if it's not good enough for an American citizen, if it's not good enough for a British citizen, why is it good enough for an Australian citizen?"

Lawyers say the only significant change in the new rules is the removal of the detainees' rights to habeas corpus - that is the right to challenge the nature of their detention.

Delays expected

Meanwhile Mr Hicks's Australian lawyer says he expects the new rules will be rejected by the US Supreme Court, meaning further delays for his client.

David McLeod says the new rules remove the rights of detainees to challenge the nature of their detention before the federal courts.

He says the US Supreme Court will again strike down the military commission process, although that might not happen for another two or three years.

"Although those seeking convictions and long prison sentences for the detainees and masquerading that as somehow or another assisting detainees know the outcome of their position, what lies ahead for David is long, lengthy further delays with no certain outcome," he said.

Mr Hicks's father, Terry Hicks, says the military commission system is still unjust.

"I believe one of the rules is that they can use coerced information, but they can't use information taken under torture," he said.

"But when you look at the coerced side of it - I mean that is still information taken under similar systems to torture.

"The system really still is an unfair and unjust system.

"The commissions are set up by the people that are actually going to run it, so how fair is that?"

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