Guantanamo redux: The Obama effect and its significance for David Hicks and Australia



20 October 2009

In this seminar, a panel of experts including Kate Eastman, Geoffrey Garrett and Katie Wood, reflected upon steps recently taken in the US Congress to amend the Military Commissions Act 2006 and prepare for the January 2010 deadline imposed by the Obama administration for closure of Guantanamo Bay. What exactly is likely to change as a result of this process? What parts of the Bush administration's legacy on counter-terrorism are likely to remain intact? What ramifications has the Obama administration's policy redirection had so far for Australia? What impact might the Obama administration yet have in influencing the course of global policy-making on counter-terrorism and the treatment of detainees? More specifically, what could be the effect of US legislative change on the life and legal status of David Hicks, an Australian citizen who continues to live under conditions imposed as a consequence of his conviction under the Military Commissions Act? These, among other questions, were discussed by the panel.

Co-sponsored by the Sydney Centre for International Law (SCIL) and Amnesty International Australia


  • Kate Eastman

    Kate Eastman has practised as a barrister in Sydney since 1998. She has previously worked in private practice and was a senior legal officer at the then named Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Kate has been a part-time law lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, Monash University and the University of Sydney. She has lectured in international human rights law, civil liberties law and human rights advocacy. Kate has been actively involved in a number of human rights and international law organisations. She was a co-founder and president of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights. In mid 2006, she was asked by Major Mori to become involved in David Hicks case. She was involved in the Federal Court proceeding brought by Mr Hicks against the Commonwealth in late 2006.

  • Professor Geoffrey Garrett
    Dean, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

    Geoffrey Garrett was the founding CEO of the US Studies Centre. Garrett is Dean, Reliance Professor of Management and Private Enterprise, and Professor of Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, he has been the Dean of the Business Schools at both the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales.

  • Katie Wood

    Katie Wood is the Governance Coordinator at Amnesty International Australia and was formerly the Campaign Coordinator for Counter Terror with Justice Campaign. Internationally, this campaign focuses on the undermining of human rights and the rule of law in governments' responses to the so called 'war on terror'. The campaign also seeks to restore the absolute prohibition against torture as well as seeking to ensure accountability for those who violated human rights standards. Prior to this, Katie worked as a solicitor for several years predominantly in the area of commercial litigation. Katie holds a BA LLB and a Masters of International Law .