76 signatories – including four
former Supreme and Federal Court judges – have put their names to an open
letter
to the Prime Minister highlighting the need for an independent and
impartial trial and appeal mechanism for Australian Guantanamo Bay prisoner
David Hicks .

Yet David Hicks is not the only Australian
victim of questionable military justice systems. There are men and women from
the ADF who have discovered that they have been denied independent and
impartial hearings under our own military justice system.

There is still significant concern over the
Government’s response to the unanimous findings of the Senate inquiry into
military justice
.
The progress report released last Thursday on the implementation of the
Government response to the inquiry
by defence chief Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston has failed to reassure some
observers.

A number of high profile compensation cases
still remain outstanding, and the allegations of physical and psychological
abuse made by Lieutenant-Commander Robyn Fahy.

Neil James from the Australia Defence Association
told the ABC last week
that the ADF has made a good start, but more still needs to be done. “There’s a lot wrong with the military
justice system, so obviously this is only the first of four scheduled reports,
and I suspect there may indeed be more,” he said. “Because it’s going to take a lot to fix
those parts of the administrative law system and the disciplinary law system
that aren’t working optimally.”

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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