Over the course of this past week two commentators on the Haneef case – The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen and lawyer Peter Faris – have got it badly wrong.

They both think that the laws under which Dr Haneef has been detained and charged are ok, but it’s just that the investigation has been sloppy. Mr Faris has even taken to calling for Commonwealth DPP Damien Bugg and AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty to resign over their roles in this farcical case.

But get this Peter and Janet – it’s the law, stupid! The anti-terror laws have been shown by the Haneef case to be dangerously flawed and open to manipulation by the authorities. These are the laws which allow the detention of an individual for days on end in solitary confinement.

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These are the laws which allow for the prosecuting authorities to provide secret affidavits to magistrates, and which the defence is not allowed to view, even though the affidavits impact on their client. And these are the laws that allow for up to 12 hours of questioning of suspect in a manner that can be grossly unfair to the accused – you can string the 12 hours of questioning out over days and weeks.

Remember also that these laws are poorly drafted. No one has yet been able to provide an adequate explanation of what it means to ‘recklessly’ support a terrorist organization.

The Howard government/ALP anti-terror laws have enabled the Haneef farce to occur because these laws lack transparency safeguards and checks on power.

So yes, there are grounds for calling on Mick Keelty to resign given what looks to be an appallingly poor investigation by his team, and Damien Bugg’s people in Brisbane may have let him down, but how about Mr Faris and Ms Albrechtsen take off their Conservative cheerleader outfits and recognize the reality of the Haneef case?

And why don’t Faris and Albrechtsen attack the Howard government for its disgraceful politicization of the Haneef case? How about they stand up for traditional values and demand that the Nation’s first law officer, the Attorney-General, not provide a running commentary on terrorism cases and seek to twist public sympathy against the suspect?

And what about the capricious actions of Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews in this matter? Surely Mr Andrews’ conduct has been nothing more than a political stunt in which he is beastly careless about the rights of Dr Haneef and due process.

It is time to amend the anti-terror laws so we can prevent another Haneef.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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