Unlike the Howard government which appears utterly cavalier with its use of legal process when it comes to Dr Mohammed Haneef, the Indian authorities are rightly insisting that the Australians get their paperwork in order before they will cooperate in the investigation – or is it a desperate witch-hunt – of Dr Haneef.

Which of course has Defence Minister Brendan Nelson rather sniffily and patronizingly complaining, while he is a guest of the Indian government this week, that India and Australia must improve their relationship in criminal investigations.

Dr Haneef cartoon

What Dr Nelson is really saying is this – how dare these Indians insist that the Australian investigators provide evidence that they have court sanctioned authority to go trawling through Dr Haneef’s friends, family and colleagues, in their hunt to find evidence that the Gold Coast doctor has connections with terrorists or even sympathies with terrorist causes.

And what about the increasingly surreal Philip Ruddock? Believe it or not, the nation’s first law officer thinks that Dr Haneef will be able to waltz on out of the Brisbane fortress where is being held “free from any taint” if he is not charged with any offence. Is Mr Ruddock for real? Or is the view formed by those of us who advocated for better treatment for asylum seekers a few years ago correct after all – that Philip Ruddock is an individual who has been stripped of humanity and empathy?

Then of course there is the inherent unfairness of the legal process involving Dr Haneef. His lawyers are kept in the dark by the Commonwealth’s lawyers as they argue that the Brisbane magistrate keeps granting extensions to allow 200 officers – no that’s not too many zeros – to hold Dr Haneef in detention.

That a lawyer acting for a person whose liberty has been stripped from him simply on the basis that the authorities want to conduct a fishing expedition to see if they can land a catch, is denied access to all the evidence in the case against his client, is morally and ethically corrupt.

But don’t think for a moment that there is any check or balance on the AFP as it rampages around the nation exercising the draconian powers accorded to it by the Howard government/ALP anti-terror laws. According to The Australian’s Cameron Stewart, whose AFP sources are legendary, there is only $2 million available for the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, headed at the moment by Commonwealth Ombudsman John McMillan, to root out over zealous and corrupt Commonwealth law enforcement officials.

According to Stewart, the ACLEI “cannot afford to conduct the basic telephone taps and covert surveillance needed to root out corrupt officers in the AFP or ACC.”

Dr McMillan says he needs a ten fold increase in staff, but the federal Justice Minister David Johnston says “talk to the hand”.

Maybe the Howard government thinks all law enforcement officers are squeaky clean and it is only a figment of those pesky civil libertarians fertile imaginations to suggest otherwise.

Oh and where’s the Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd on the Haneef witch hunt?Naturally nowhere to be heard or seen. Too busy worrying about the price of groceries to care about human rights.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.