Tuesday, January 02, 2007

David Hicks, the Australian Dreyfus

Note to readers who have seen this post twice. In preparing I had to break and hit publish instead of save. This makes no difference to the core message, just a little to the length.

All right, Neil, I'll play too on this one!

When I was a kid I read the story of Alfred Dreyfus and cried. How could a society do this to someone?

I have watched David Hicks. When he was interned, I accepted the need, if with reluctance. As time passed, I have worried more and more. Now Hicks has become Australia's Dreyfus.

I am not suggesting that David and Alfred are exactly equivalent. After a certain point that ceases to matter. Now we have an Australian citizen who has no one at Australian official level to look after him, who seems destined to spend an indefinite time in jail regardless of trial.

I have heard the Australian PM and the Minister imply that this is Hick's own fault for appealing aspects of the process. This is a dangerous argument because it implies that an accused should accept process regardless of validity.

The Government, I think, still hopes in all this that the Hicks matter may proceed to successful trial now that Congress has passed new legislation. But the problem for the Government is that after a certain period justice delayed becomes so clearly justice denied that the actual trial results become almost irrelevant.

In the absence of evidence to the contrary (and vague references to security reports do not constitute evidence), I think that we have been at this point for some time.


Lexcen said...

Jim, I fail to see the similarity between Dreyfuss and Hicks. If you are referring to "injustice" then you might as well compare Hicks to Billy Budd. Personally, I would like Hicks to be judged under Sharia Law, since he chose to fight with the Taliban.

Anonymous said...

Lexcen, I don't know what Hicks may or may not have been guilty of, and very few people do, as he has not been tried. However, let's assume for a minute that he did do something substantial for the Taliban, aside from being stupid. Isn't it possible that under Taliban sharia law he might actually be rewarded?

Jim Belshaw said...

Chaps, I may be wrong, but I have put up a more detailed post on this.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure of the point-by-point comparison with Dreyfus, even after the detailed post, but I am sure imprisonment without trial for five years is not my understanding of either US or Australian law. As I said on my older blog: "And so the liberty we are meant to be defending is ridden over roughshod."

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Neil. The two key similarities with Dreyfus as I see them are a flawed military justice system combined with external pressures and entrenched views.Together, they denied Dreyfus justice.