Two Liberal MP have backed calls for the Australian government to seek Julian Assange’s return to Australia “as quickly as possible” after deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said the US extradition request was unfair. Liberal backbencher MPs Jason Falinski and Bridget Archer called for diplomatic action to secure Julian Assanges’s return to his home country after the deputy prime minister said it was unfair that the US wanted to extradite Assange to face prosecution over actions allegedly not committed inside the US.
It was reported in The Guardian on 14 December by Daniel Hurst and Paul Karp, that Falinski had told Guardian Australia on Tuesday the government had “to do what we can to get an Australian citizen back to Australia as quickly as possible”. He rejected claims the government had given up on Assange, suggesting diplomats were working behind the scenes to extract concessions from the US. That included assurances about Assange’s treatment in the US prison system and that the US would allow him to be transferred to Australia to serve any prison sentence.
“Clearly it’s a very delicate balancing act,” said Falinski, the MP for Mackellar, Canberra. “I’m not sure a public spat with America … will end up with a better outcome.”
Archer told Guardian Australia: “The fact is that he is an Australian citizen who continues to suffer significant mental and physical health issues as a result of his ongoing incarceration because of the protracted legal battle.
“I believe he should be released and returned to Australia, and will continue to advocate for diplomatic action for that to occur,” the Tasmanian Liberal MP said.
The Labour MP Julian Hill, a member of the parliamentary friends of the Bring Julian Assange Home campaign, welcomed Joyce’s intervention. There are 24 members of the Assange parliamentary group, including nine Greens, eight Labour, four from the independents or crossbench, and three from the Coalition: Joyce, Nationals MP George Christensen and Archer.
However, so far the Australian government appears that it does not want to intervene in the case. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement that it was monitoring the case closely, but would “continue to respect the UK legal process – including any further appeals under UK law”. It emphasised Australia was “not a party to the case”.
The decision to allow Julian Assange’s deportation was announced in the London High Court on 10 December, which was, by co-incidence, International Human Rights Day. The case will be sent to the Westminster magistrates’ court with a direction to send the case home secretary, Priti Patel.
Speaking on 16 December, Deirdre Brown, Deputy Head of the UK delegation to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) UK Deputy Ambassador Deirdre Brown marked the Day and talked about OSCE’s joint commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms. She was obviously unaware of the irony.
In her statement to the OSCE meeting she said that International Human Rights Day was an opportunity to reflect on the progress made on human rights since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. She continued:
“Mr Chair, International Human Rights Day also offers an opportunity to reflect on the importance of human rights defenders, civil society and the media in highlighting human rights violations and abuses. In an OSCE context, it is regrettable that a Human Dimension Implementation Meeting was not held this year. It is a chance lost for civil society to hold participating States to account, and to exchange best practice and to discuss how all participating States can live up to our commitments in the OSCE.
As we look ahead to 2022, the UK will continue to actively call out human rights violations and abuses wherever they occur, working with human rights defenders, civil society and the media to uphold democracy based on the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms…”
No doubt Julian Assange will be delighted to learn that the UK will continue to actively call out human rights violations and abuses wherever they occur. Perhaps home secretary, Priti Patel will reflect on Deirdre Brown’s words and will refuse to extradite Julian to the US.
Meanwhile I’m sure the Labour leadership in parliament will also raise its voice in support of the co-founder of WikiLeaks. After all opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer KCB, QC, served as a legal officer for the civil liberties campaign group Liberty until 1990 and was a member of Doughty Streets Chambers from 1990 onwards, primarily working on human rights issues. In 2008, he became Director of Public Prosecutions serving for a five-year term. So that’s settled then! Or is it. Maybe after reading: https://labourheartlands.com/exclusive-ken-loach-calls-out-sir-keir-starmer-what-was-his-dealings-in-the-julian-assange-case/ you may have second thoughts!
You can read Deirdre Brown’s full statement at: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/international-human-rights-day-2021-uk-statement-at-osce