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.



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26 July 2016:   Law Council offers support for Royal Commission into abuse of children in detention in the NT
The Law Council of Australia today offered its full support for a Commonwealth Royal Commission into the abuse of children in detention in the NT, and called for it to examine an apparent culture that tolerates the abuse of minors and incarceration of youths at three times the rate of any other jurisdiction.

25 July 2016:   Rule of law principles must be protected in any move to hold jailed terrorists past thier terms
The Law Council of Australia is urging the Australian Parliament to proceed cautiously with proposals to introduce new legislation that would allow jailed terrorists who still pose a risk when their prison terms expire to be held for an extended period of time.

23 July 2016:   Congratulations to Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Shadow Justice Minister Clare O'Neil
The Law Council of Australia has today extended its congratulations to Mark Dreyfus QC MP on his reappointment to the role of Shadow Attorney-General in the Federal Opposition.

22 July 2016:   Grave concerns for Turkey following mass removal of judges and calls for retrospective death penalty
The Law Council of Australia has expressed its grave concern over the removal from duty — without proper process — of some 2,750 judges in Turkey, following a failed coup by a section of the military.