The treatment of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during the hearing into a US extradition request has come under fire from a body representing the global legal profession. In a statement today, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) condemns among other alleged abuses the refusal of Assange’s request to sit with his lawyers rather than in the dock of Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
According to his lawyers, Assange was 'handcuffed 11 times; stripped naked twice and searched', the IBAHRI says. Assange’s case files were also confiscated after the first day of the hearing, which will decide whether Assange will be extradited to the US, where he is wanted on 18 charges of attempted hacking and breaches of the 1917 Espionage Act. Proceedings began last month, were adjourned after four days, and are set to resume on 18 May.
IBAHRI co-chair the Hon Michael Kirby said Assange’s treatment may constitute breaches of his right to a fair trial and protections enshrined in the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. 'It is deeply shocking that as a mature democracy in which the rule of law and the rights of individuals are preserved, the UK government has been silent and has taken no action to terminate such gross and disproportionate conduct by Crown officials. Many countries in the world look to Britain as an example in such matters,' Kirby said. 'On this occasion, the example is shocking and excessive.'
Other governments criticised by the IBAHRI this year include Malawi, Kazakhstan, Turkey and the Philippines.