Saturday, July 28, 2007

The sordid tale of Dr Haneef continues...

Update to my last post on the abuse of its own terrorism laws by the Australian government and its agencies.

The case against Dr Haneef has been dropped and he has been released.

Sort of.

The delightfully named DPP Damian Bugg had his spokesman, the even more deliciously named Alan MacSporran, tell the court that his review had revealed errors in the prosecution's allegations.

After more than three weeks in custody, most of which was without being charged, the eventual charges are shown to be false. 'Errors of fact' were put before the court. That's a polite way of saying the prosecution presented false evidence.

So, no charge. The DPP's office can't make a case against him, however hard they try. Innocent.

But in behaviour which stresses the point I was making about the abuse of the law by government, the Immigration Minister is sticking to his increasingly controversial decision to revoke the doctor's visa and confiscate his passport. He was put in 'residential detention', which means that although he can move about freely in the community he must report regularly to Immigration authorities. That is until his passport is returned to him, which will not be until his immigration status is decided.

Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews, after consulting Prime Minister Howard and other ministers, cancelled Dr Haneef’s work visa immediately after a magistrates decision to grant him bail, ensuring that Dr Haneef was kept in custody. They were all party to the injustice.

True to the way in which the government under the guidance of PM John Howard operates, they're all running for cover and blaming everyone else. That's been a feature of Howard's governments over the years.

Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews and Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty are playing the game. It's reported that the AFP are privately blaming the minister, saying that his decision to revoke Dr Haneef's visa complicated and inflamed the case. So it was his fault not theirs.

Mr Keelty said the AFP had acted on the advice of the DPP that there was sufficient evidence to charge the doctor. So it was their fault not his.

Mr Bugg said the AFP had provided his office with 'incorrect material', so it was their fault not his.

John Howard ran for cover as usual. The Prime Minister said it was up to Mr Keelty and Mr Bugg to explain. It was their fault not his.

Keeping his head well below the ramparts is the appalling Phillip Ruddock, Australia’s Attorney-General. He hasn't even popped up to blame anyone else, he's just trying to be invisible. He obviously doesn't want to comment on the fact that he laid into leading lawyers who highlighted serious flaws in the arrest and continued detention of Dr Haneef, describing their statements as 'regrettable'.

The leader of the Opposition hasn't come out of it well either. Kevin Rudd has been conspicuous by his silence, by not slamming the continued detention and harassment of Dr Haneef.

And a final twist in the story. The doctor was left homeless - his apartment had been trashed by police, 'rendered uninhabitable' in the official parlance. And to make sure: His landlord said that Dr Haneef’s lease had expired because he had failed to pay rent while in custody.

"He’s officially no longer a tenant here," Steve Boscher, manager of the apartment block, said. "I don't want to seem like some kind of arsehole but his lease has run out here."

Let's leave the final words with our deservedly highly criticised Immigration Department. Immigration Minister Andrews has said Dr Haneef would be allowed to leave Australia tonight but the Government would not reinstate his work visa - his passport would be returned to him but his visa remained cancelled.

Immigration made it a condition of his return to India that he did not participate in any media photo or interview opportunities, his lawyers said. They expressed disappointment that he was prevented from publicly thanking Australians who supported him during his detention.

What a sordid story this is. Not for the first time during Howard's reign, I feel I need a shower.

Stories in The Australian here, in the Sydney Morning Herald here.
And in The Times here and here.

1 comment:

Alexander said...

Doesn't really say a lot for 'em, does it?