Australia: court rules ex-Gitmo detainee can sue government

The Federal Court of Australia ruled Feb. 26 that former Guantánamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib can sue the Australian government for complicity in his ill-treatment while incarcerated in Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo. Habib claims he suffered sleep deprivation, electrocution, and drug injections during his detainment, some of which happened in collusion with or in the presence of Australian officials.

The Commonwealth of Australia, which denies the allegations, claimed the case should be thrown out because it was outside the realm of the judiciary to hear a case on the actions of foreign officials. A three-judge panel rejected this claim stating that torture offends the “ideal of common humanity,” whether administered domestically or abroad, and can never be justified by official acts or policy. Habib said that he plans to sue the Australian government for unlimited damages.

In 2008, the Federal Court of Australia ruled against Habib in his ongoing claim for compensation against the Australian government, finding that he was mistaken and was not interrogated anywhere under the control of the Australian government. Habib was detained in 2001 in Pakistan and was held in Egypt and Afghanistan before being sent to Guantanamo Bay for three years, where the US accused him of aiding terrorist militants. The US released him without charge in 2005. Habib and his lawyers have repeatedly said that he was tortured while in US custody.

From Jurist, Feb. 26. Used with permission.

See our last post on the torture scandals.