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.

Materials

2008

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1 December 2016:  Amended High Risk Terrorist Offenders Bill strikes better balance between community protection and rule of law
Amendments to the Federal Government’s new anti-terror laws, that passed the Senate today, strikes a better balance in protecting the community while ensuring fundamental legal rights and freedoms are not jettisoned in the process.

29 November 2016:  Chief Justice appointment a landmark in Australian history
The appointment of the Honourable Justice Susan Mary Kiefel AC as the next Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia is a landmark moment for Australia’s legal system and the nation, according to the Law Council of Australia.

28 November 2016:  2017 Law Council of Australia Executive
At the November Directors’ Meeting of the Law Council of Australia, the following Directors were elected as Members of the Law Council Executive for 2017: Fiona McLeod SC (President), Morry Bailes (President-elect), Arthur Moses SC (Treasurer), Pauline Wright (Executive Member), Konrad de Kerloy (Executive Member) and Geoff Bowyer (Executive Member).

28 November 2016:  Anti-death penalty and human rights advocate Julian McMahon wins President's Medal
The Law Council of Australia's 2016 President's Medal has been awarded to eminent barrister, anti-death penalty and human rights advocate, Julian McMahon.