(Above image: Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer [L] and New Zealand Foreign Minister, Winston Peters [R] at their Press conference.)
John Howard's Government is being accused of war crimes by a team of lawyers, according to an article by WSWS.
Sydney Morning Herald's article even quotes from a Judge, who remarked that the actions committed by the Howard Government, constitute a war crime even under Australian Law.
An article published by News.com, described the opposing legal positions. Lawyers representing the Commonwealth of Australia argued that; although, the State had a moral obligation, there was no legal obligation to repatriate an Australian citizen from foreign custody.
Lawyers for Hicks countered that the Australian Government failed to call for a fair trial for one of its citizens and breached a time tested understanding, resting squarely on the fiduciary compact existing between a state and their citizens.
These legal minds, are also advocates of prosecuting the current Australian Prime Minister and other senior Ministers. It is reasonable to believe that, charges could also be directed at the Teflon coated Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer - since being a senior personality in Howard's Government and the Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs.
This legal action facing Downer, comes in the wake of his malingering efforts to lobby pressure on Fiji, an effort which was singled out by the interim Prime Minister of Fiji in an article by Sydney Mornig Herald. Fijilive article reports that, the interim Fiji P.M had issued a warning to other Pacific nations, to be wary of Australia's imperial intentions.
This is an excerpt of the Fiji Live article:
Watch Australia, Fiji PM warns neighbours
Wednesday February 28, 2007
Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has warned other pacific island countries to be wary of "Australia's strategy to assert power in the pacific".
In a press statement yesterday, Commodore Bainimarama said that an independent assessment by the Pacific Island Forum's Eminent Persons Group (EPG) is being used by Australia to "establish a relationship of power towards Fiji".
"One should reassess the manner in which Australia reacts and engages in Pacific issues and one could get a fair assessment of how out of context they can become," said Commodore Bainimarama.
He says Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has caught Fiji's Interim Government off guard following comments he made during a joint press conference in New Zealand with his counterpart Winston Peters on Monday.
"I am surprised in the manner in which Downer is making utterance in an effort to influence the ability of individual Pacific Island Countries to make assessments of the situation here in Fiji."
"In such a situation the aspirations of the people of Fiji are subordinate to the wishes and expectations of Australia," he said.
He said the interim government has developed a comprehensive road map to return Fiji to parliamentary democracy by 2010 and is fully committed to accomplish that road map.
The lawyers exploring the charges of war crimes have reasons to believe that, the Howard Government colluded with the U.S Bush administration, resulting in the 5 year detention of Australian citizen, David Hicks.
Robert Richter, one of the lawyers involved had written a stinging outline in Melbourne's Age Newspaper. Richter's outline highlighted the dubious, dangerous and dualistic applications of international law, committed by the Howard led, Australian Government.
This is the excerpt of the Age article:
Hypocrites breaking our law at every turn
PHILIP Ruddock is a hypocrite when parading his Amnesty International membership. He pretends to give a toss for the organisation and the principles for which it stands: the rule of law, freedom from arbitrary arrest and punishment, freedom from torture, opposition to the perversion of accepted civilised notions of justice and the obligations he owes to those notionally under his protection. Instead, he has publicly and shamefully betrayed all of these precepts.
He is a liar when he pretends concern for David Hicks' fate. His protestations about Australia's efforts to secure a speedy trial for Hicks cross the line of decency when we consider that Hicks is, after five years, not charged with any offence.
Nor is he subject to the jurisdiction of any lawfully constituted court of justice. We know he has not committed any offences against Australian law. Our A-G says so. We also know that he does not stand charged with any known crime against US law. So how is it that the Attorney-General has not demanded the return of Hicks to the country that owes him protection as a matter of law?
It is because the A-G has publicly prostituted his duties to the law — and to those he owes a duty of protection — in the service of his political masters in the government he serves.
I say this without cover of privilege and challenge him to sue for defamation and take the risk of the facts emerging in any litigation. Cabinet solidarity is one thing; his mealy-mouthed public utterances on the subject are another. He should at least have the decency to stay silent rather than seek to defend and advance the indefensible.
He is, when last I looked, the Attorney-General. That means he is the first law officer of the Commonwealth. It is his primary obligation as Attorney-General — not as a politician, which he discharges in the hurly-burly of politics as an ordinary MP — to transcend the lies and evasions of politicians intent on holding on to power, and to discharge his duties to the law and the constitution: to protect and uphold the rights and liberties of, as well as enforce duties by, citizens of this country.
His utterances about David Hicks are damp-squib lies and deceptions, as are those of his political masters John Howard and of Australia's-face-to-the world, Alexander Downer.
When I became a citizen of Australia, I believed that as part of my pledging allegiance I also acquired the protection of my country at home and abroad. I can no longer believe in the latter while people like Ruddock, Howard and Downer are custodians of such protections. Nor can other Australians.
Messrs Ruddock, Howard and Downer's pronouncements about seeking to have Hicks charged early in the new year (in front of commissions that have not yet been lawfully set up!) seem to me to be a desperate cover-up of their government's, fundamental dereliction of duty. Instead of demanding Hicks' return, they have made themselves complicit in procuring an illegal process to occur as soon as possible.
Rather than facing up to their duties to protect the fundamental rights of those subject to their theoretical protection, Ruddock , Howard and Downer are deliberately compounding the illegal actions of the American Administration by counselling and procuring an illegal process. This is a crime under our law.
Instead of confessing to a wrong and doing the decent thing by trying to set it right, they are pushing ahead with "churching the whore" after the abortion. They urge the Americans to create a facade of legality for what is seen by all honest jurists as a gross violation of national and international law.
Shame on you Philip Ruddock. I say the same to your superiors and accomplices, but I pick you out because you are supposed to be the enforcing arm of law and justice in Australia, instead of the aider and abettor of the disregard of national and international law and justice.
In his latest defence of the indefensible ( 7.30 Report, February 6), Ruddock likened the serving of "draft charges" on David Hicks to being charged in Australia pending committal proceedings. He is lying. Hicks has not been charged. This can only happen with the approval of a "convening authority", which does not yet exist. Moreover, he is deliberately lying when comparing the process to what might happen in Australia because he knows that a person charged here must be brought before a court as soon as practicable — within 24 hours — or have access to habeas corpus.
As a lawyer, he knows that if the matter had been placed before an Australian court, it would be struck out as an abuse of process for a number of reasons: one of the "draft" charges is retrospective and would be struck out.
The charge of attempted murder would be thrown out because, as any university law student would know, training is not an attempt to do it. You actually have to be "on the job" in trying to kill. This is so without even addressing the issues of hearsay or the use of coerced evidence, which raise other fundamental objections to what is proposed.
I used to say Ruddock bore an uncanny resemblance and presentation to an undertaker. I no longer do so because undertakers are decent, honest people doing a decent and honest job and should not be demeaned by a comparison to the indecency perpetrated by Ruddock as the frontrunner for his masters.
Shame on you all. Bring David Hicks home NOW.
Robert Richter, QC, is a Melbourne barrister.
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