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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December, 2003, 08:00 GMT
'Unequal treatment' at Guantanamo
David Hicks (left)
David Hicks has been held at Guantanamo for two years
A lawyer who has visited his client being held at a US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has told the BBC prisoners there are not being treated equally.

Stephen Kenny was the first civilian lawyer allowed access to any of the former Afghan war suspects being held at the military facility.

He said there was a pecking order of treatment depending on the captive's nationality - with Americans on top.

Human rights groups have criticised America's treatment of the detainees.

This is a case where the standard of justice seems to have different layers
Stephen Kenny
Australian lawyer
The Bush administration has argued the inmates are not entitled to the rights of prisoners-of-war under international law because they are "unlawful combatants".

Under this classification, the prisoners are not charged, but nor are they allowed access to any legal process.

There are about 660 suspected Taleban or al-Qaeda fighters being held at the Cuban site.

'Double standards'

Mr Kenny visited his client - Australian David Hicks - last week.

He said Mr Hicks - a convert to Islam who was arrested two years ago in Afghanistan - had survived reasonably well, but had a desperate desire to go home.

Mr Hicks "was absolutely glad to see me. Indeed, his last letter home wanted to know where I was and why hadn't I been there," Mr Kenny told the BBC's World Today programme.

The lawyer said that in order to be allowed to see his client, he had to sign a legal document preventing him from talking about anything related to Guantanamo Bay and what he saw there without the permission of the US military authorities.

Nevertheless, Mr Kenny said inmates appeared to be treated differently depending on whether they came from countries that had allied themselves with the Americans or not.

"I see a great destruction of what I would call the rule of law, that people should be treated equally before the law, that they should have the same standard of justice," he said.

"This is a case where the standard of justice seems to have different layers, one for the Americans, there may be another one for the British, there is certainly a different one for Australian - less than the American - and the rest of them in the camp... they weren't [part of] the allies' camp is their rationale and they will get a lesser standard than what the Australians will."




WATCH AND LISTEN
Stephen Kenny, lawyer for David Hicks
"I see a great destruction in the rule of law"



SEE ALSO:
'Taleban' father in caged protest
08 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Fresh legal row over Guantanamo
03 Dec 03  |  Americas
US moves to try Cuba prisoners
23 May 03  |  Americas
Guantanamo delays under scrutiny
05 May 03  |  Americas
Guantanamo Bay
28 Nov 02  |  Archive
Analysis: Military tribunals
04 Mar 03  |  Americas
The 'Australian Taleban'
04 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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