Government can no longer put off Hicks inquiry

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The Australian Government can no longer put off referring the case of former Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks and the then Government's role in his incarceration and treatment to an independent inquiry in light of reports today that witnesses have backed Mr Hicks' claims of serious mistreatment and torture, including forced drugging, Australian Greens spokesperson for Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright, said.

"A Guantanamo guard and a respected attorney were to provide witness accounts of Mr Hicks' mistreatment in the court case for the proceeds of crime from his book," Senator Wright said. "But the case, which was to be the first legitimate hearing he has had, was dropped in July and their evidence will again avoid public scrutiny.

"David Hicks' treatment has been appalling on so many levels. Reports of the forced use of drugs such as mefloquine for non-therapeutic purposes, when it is known to cause psychotic side effects and brain damage, and the doctoring of Guantanamo medical reports to remove the names of drugs and doses, is just one more chilling chapter in this terrible tale.

"Having been denied his day in a real court, David Hicks - and the Australian public - is entitled to a full, independent inquiry to finally get to the bottom of his treatment in Guantanamo and his abandonment by the Howard government.

 "It is clear that the Greens are the only party in Australia interested in really finding out what happened to David Hicks. In June, the Government and the Opposition both voted against a Greens motion in the Senate calling for an open, independent inquiry into this case, but today's revelations show why such an inquiry can no longer be put off.

"We can no longer sweep under the carpet the role of an Australian government in allowing Mr Hicks' incarceration and treatment to occur when so many credible commentators were consistently raising their concerns. We must have a full inquiry now so that this cannot ever happen to another Australian citizen."