Dr Mohamed Haneef, an Indian national, was arrested at Brisbane airport on 2 July 2007 in connection with a failed London bomb plot. He was held for twelve days before being charged with providing support to a terrorist organisation. The charge was unsustainable and was quickly dropped. However, in the interim Dr Haneef's immigration visa was cancelled on character grounds - a decision which on review was found to be unlawful.

The arrest, detention, charge and subsequent release of Dr Mohamed Haneef represented the first time that a number of legislative provisions, introduced to respond to the threat of terrorism, were relied on in practice.

The case revealed significant deficiencies in those provisions and a marked disparity between their actual and intended operation. In particular, the case revealed:

  • problems with the operation and application of sections 3W, section 15AA and Part 1C of the Crimes Act - most notably the "dead time" provisions;

  • problems with the Criminal Code terrorist organisation offence provisions; and

  • problems with section 501 of the Migration Act and the intersection between migration law and criminal law.

To draw attention to these issues the Law Council issued multiple press releases on the case, which generated significant media attention. The Law Council followed up this media activity by writing to the Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Customs, Minister for Immigration and AFP Commissioner about the deficiencies in the law revealed by the case. In these letters the Law Council submitted a number of reform proposals.

On 13 March 2008 the Attorney-General announced the appointment of the Hon John Clarke QC to conduct an inquiry into the case of Dr Mohamed Haneef. The Law Council made a written submission to the Inquiry and appeared at a public hearing.

In December 2008, Mr Clarke reported to the Government and recommended a number of legislative and procedural changes.

The Law Council continues to advocate for the implementation of those recommendations.



What's New?

Banner cyber precedent

Cyber Precedent, an information campaign by the Law Council of Australia to assist the legal profession further defend itself against growing cyber threats.

17 February 2017:  Legal profession launching unprecedented national initiative to counter unconscious bias
The Law Council of Australia is launching a major new program to help lawyers understand and address unconscious bias.

16 February 2017:  Same-Sex Marriage Bill report strikes balance between freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination
The Law Council today said the consensus Parliamentary report into the Government's Same-Sex Marriage Bill strikes a good balance between freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination and called on Parliament to progress the report’s findings.

13 February 2017:  Mandatory sentencing undermining firearms trafficking bill
Including mandatory sentencing in the Federal Government’s firearms trafficking bill could lead to unjust punishments and unintended consequences. 

9 February 2017:  Australia takes historic step to help prevent torture
Australia has taken a positive and historic step today in the campaign to end torture, through the announcement by the Attorney-General and Minister for Foreign Affairs that the Government will ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).