Australia government slammed for holding terror suspect after bail grant

[JURIST] Lawyers and rights groups joined in criticism of Australia's continued detention of UK terror suspect Dr. Mohammad Haneef [JURIST news archive] Tuesday, saying that the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship's decision to revoke Haneef's work visa so that Haneef can remain detained despite being granted bail by a magistrate, erodes the rule of law and violates the principles of justice. Haneef, an Indian doctor, is accused of being involved with failed UK car bomb attacks [JURIST report] in Glasgow and London late last month. Immigration and Citizenship Minister Kevin Andrews [official website] defended his decision to revoke Haneef's work visa [ABC report; transcript], saying that he arrived at the conclusion that Haneef "had and has associations with people who have been involved in criminal conduct" after seeing information that cannot be revealed under the law. Australian authorities have charged [JURIST report] Haneef with providing support in the terror plot because Haneef left a subscriber identity module [Wikipedia backgrounder] with his second cousin, one of the alleged bombers, when he left the UK almost a year ago.

Australian Bar Association [official website] President Stephen Estcourt, who called the continued detention a threat to the rule of law, said it was difficult to accept that government prosecutors did not present the additional evidence the Australian government claimed to posses, adding that if the visa revocation is to be upheld against appeal, the government will need to prove "more than just a casual association" with the suspected UK terrorists. Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) [official website] President Ian Brown characterized the treatment of Haneef as appalling and deplorable [press release, PDF], saying that if comparable treatment occurred to an Australian national overseas, the country would be outraged. Brown also said that the visa revocation "is a grave departure from the standards of justice you would expect to see in any civilized society..." adding that the ALA believes the visa revocation is "little more than reactive and political." Another ALA official said that government prosecutors had the opportunity to appeal the decision granting Haneef bail to the Australian Supreme Court, but the government has instead "taken away this man's right to a fair hearing." Amnesty International Australia [official website] said it was "extremely concerned" with the development, calling it a "unprecedented use of power" [press release] that jeopardizes the right to a fair trial.

Haneef's lawyer has confirmed that Haneef will appeal the revocation of his visa [ABC report], while Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Navtej Sarna said that India has "expressed its concern" [press release] to Australia treat it Haneef in a fair and just manner under Australian law. Last Wednesday, former Australian High Court [official website] Chief Justice Sir Gerald Brennan [academic profile] denounced the anti-terror laws [text] being used to detain Haneef, calling them vague and even "draconian" [JURIST report]. AP has more. ABC News has local coverage.

 

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