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24 July 2003

U.S., Australian Officials Discuss Australian Detainee Cases

Department of Defense July 23rd news release

The United States and Australia held "productive" discussions on how the United States will handle Australian detainees in the war on terrorism, according to a July 23 Department of Defense news release.

The United States and Australia agreed that in any such proceedings the U.S. military commissions would be based on principles of fairness as contained in President Bush's Military Order of November 13, 2001.

Those principles, the news release says, include the presumption of innocence and proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Following is the text of the news release:

(begin text)

NEWS RELEASE
United States Department of Defense

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jul 23, 2003

DoD Statement on Australian Detainee Meetings

The General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Hon. William J. Haynes II, met Monday through Wednesday with an Australian legal delegation, led by Minister of Justice Chris Ellison, to discuss and review potential options for the disposition of Australian detainee cases.

The discussions were productive and led to a number of assurances from the U.S. about the military commission process based on the principles of fairness contained in President Bush's Military Order of November 13, 2001, and Military Commission Order No. 1. Those principles include the presumption of innocence, proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, representation by defense counsel, no adverse inference for choosing to remain silent, and the overall requirement that any commission proceedings be full and fair.

Among other things, the U.S. assured Australia that the prosecution had reviewed the evidence against David Hicks, and that based on the evidence, if that detainee is charged, the prosecution would not seek the death penalty. Additionally, the circumstances of his case are such that it would not warrant monitoring of conversations between him and his defense counsel.

This week's visits follow a July 18 decision by President Bush to discuss and review potential options for the disposition of Australian detainee cases and not to commence any military commission proceedings against Australian nationals pending the outcome of those meetings.

Individual enemy combatants held by the U.S. in the war on terrorism will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis based on their specific circumstances for an appropriate disposition of their case. To date, no enemy combatant has been charged for trial before a military commission.

No military commission proceedings will begin against any Australian nationals until after further discussions planned for the near future.

Discussions with British legal representatives are ongoing and no military commission proceedings will begin against any British nationals until completion of those discussions.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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