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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23 September 2016:   Justice reinvestment offers chance to cut number of Indigenous inmates
Opinion piece by Law Council President, Stuart Clark AM, regarding Indigenous imprisonment. Read full story here.

15 September 2016:   Special advocate regime a vital inclusion in new counter-terrorism bill, but further parliamentary scrutiny necessary
The Law Council of Australia has commended the Government for including a special advocate regime in new counter-terrorism laws introduced to the Senate today.

14 September 2016:   Flawed mandatory sentencing element undermining important firearm measures
The Law Council of Australia is warning that the unnecessary inclusion of mandatory sentencing will undermine the credibility of the Federal Government’s new firearms trafficking bill.

30 August 2016:   Law Council to launch national cyber security initiative as cyber threat grows
The Law Council of Australia will launch a national cyber security information campaign for the legal profession this year, as the threat of cybercrime and cyber espionage grows exponentially across the globe.

19 August 2016:   Disturbing images from Qld underscore the need to review youth detention Australia-wide
Reports and images of alleged mistreatment in Townsville's Cleveland Youth Detention Centre and Brisbane Youth Detention Centre emphasise the pressing need for all jurisdictions to conduct independent, arms-length reviews of their juvenile detention systems.