July 21, 2011

Horse 1213 - David Hicks Sells Books, The DPP Wants Money

From Sky News - http://www.skynews.com.au/local/article.aspx?id=640649&vId=
David Hicks could be deprived of tens of thousands of dollars reaped from his Guantanamo, My Journey book, after the DPP served him with a notice.
Hicks's book, Guantanamo, My Journey, was published last year by Random House, and is based on his time as an inmate in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from 2001 until 2007.
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, he is legally unable to profit from his Guantanamo ordeal, which has resulted in 30,000 book sales, The Australian reported on Thursday.
A restraining order he was issued with by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions on Wednesday will be followed by an application to seize profits made from the book under the Commonwealth Proceeds of Crime Act, the paper said.
An Australian Federal Police spokeswoman said the matter would be heard by the NSW Supreme Court on August 3.

Whilst I acknowledge that it's probably safe to assume that David Hicks was in fact training to be a terrorist. I also acknowledge that he confessed to doing as much.
However, for the Director of Public Prosecutions decides to prosecute under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, I think this sets a disgusting precedent.

Firstly Hicks was never tried in a recognised court. Let's be perfectly frank here, it was a kangaroo court organised specifically designed because it was in a legal grey area. For an Australian Court to recognise the findings of that so-called court, is to undermine the legal framework of this country.
Even the US Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in 2006 declared that this pathetic excuse for a court was unconstitutional. Why then if the United States legal system doesn't the court, should an Australian court recognise its decisions?
What point does it stop? If the courts recognise the decisions of a court which was legally and morally vague and certainly without due jurisdiction, then does this mean that the NSW Supreme Court by inference actually endorses those decisions? I hope not.

Secondly, if the DPP appeal is upheld, then in effect the NSW Supreme Court will uphold a confession obtained under torture. Australia is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which I should point out that the United States ISN'T), of which Article 5 states:
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Are we to suggest therefore that in upholding a decision we should negate existing law?
I would hope that the laws on this country are at very least based on or recognise Human Rights law and upon failing that human dignity. If not, then what is the point of law itself?

Thirdly, technically the proceeds which result from book sales aren't the proceeds of crime but the proceeds of book sales. Book Sales aren't the direct proceeds of crime under the s.124 definition contained within the Act.
Admittedly the DPP probably have lawyers who are prepared to argue all sorts of defnitions at law and my knowledge of the actual operation of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is not as robust as the legal profession, but it still doesn't change the fact that law can and should be read at face value.

If the NSW Supreme Court does uphold the DPP's request, then I think it will be a failure in the legal process. Whilst I don't like the fact that Hicks was bascially training to kill people en masse, I don't think that the rule of law should be bent because we happen to be morally offended. The thing is that because out legal system is in part based on the principle of precedents, if the law is bent, then the precedent is set to do so in the future.

As an aside, I would have thought that the best way for this to go away and thereby negate any media capital which Hicks could have generated, would be simply to let the book go on sale, and sale very few copies. Does the DPP, by going to court actually generate more media hype to surround Hicks in the first place and thus defeat their own cause?

No comments: