Federal Court defends torture

The Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group (CBPG) has condemned the Federal Court for dismissing Mamdouh Habib's attempt to reclaim his passport.

Habib was appealing an Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) decision not to return his passport. After Habib's 2005 release without charge from Guantanamo Bay, the former Howard government cancelled his passport. The evidence the government used to make this decision was kept secret due to "national security" issues.

"The most dreadful part of the Tribunal ruling was that even the presiding magistrate accepted that Mamdouh was tortured. Yet whatever he said under torture was accepted by the tribunal as evidence against him. On this basis the AAT denied Mamdouh his passport", CBPG spokesperson Raul Bassi said on April 26, two days after the Federal Court ruling.

Bassi continued: "With the election of the Rudd government, Habib was hopeful that the approach to his case would change. But in relation to human rights ... there is a line of continuity between the old and new governments.

"The same lawyer who represented the Howard government in the first case represented the Rudd
government in the appeal, and with the same arguments."

The Obama administration recently accepted torture had been used by the US, with the support of the highest authorities. ASIO and the Australian Federal Police originally denied any knowledge of the practice, but, as Bassi pointed out, "lately it has come to light that their agents saw Mamdouh Habib in Guantanamo Bay clearly in distress and that he told them that he had been tortured".