The anti-terrorism laws in Australia are to be revamped following a judicial inquiry into the bungled arrest of Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef last year. His arrest in the wake of the failed Glasgow bombing mission and his subsequent deportation created a furore internationally.
Dr Haneef was detained after the SIM card from his mobile phone was linked to his cousin, Kafeel Ahmed, who died after being burnt in the Glasgow attack.
AdvertisementBut subsequently the The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the country's domestic counterintelligence service said it did not have any material linking the Gold Coast Hospital doctor to terrorism.
Still the then John Howard government persisted with the case against Haneef. His visa was cancelled on July 16, the day he was granted bail by a magistrate. A charge of recklessly supporting a terrorist organisation was later withdrawn for lack of evidence. Finally he was deported to India.
Mr.Kevin Rudd who came to power later ordered an inquiry to the entire episode.
Former New South Wales Supreme Court judge John Clarke QC, who chaired the inquiry, said that Dr.Haneef should not have been charged at all in the first place and felt it would have been "prudent" to defer the cancellation of Dr Haneef's visa and his deportation.
The report, which is yet to be released, is critical of the prosecution case against Dr Haneef, identifies failures of criminal intelligence, and recommends a standing review of the anti-terrorism laws and sweeping controls for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the intelligence services in relation to immigration.
But the report has cleared the Howard government of any improper behaviour, conspiracy or political motivation in first arresting and later summarily deporting the Indian doctor.
While finding flaws in the actions of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, the former immigration minister Kevin Andrews, the Department of Immigration and the AFP, the report finds there was no conspiracy nor political motivation in the decision to cancel Dr Haneef's Australian work visa and send him back to India after the terrorism charges against him were dropped.
Although the report alludes to possible conflict between the AFP and ASIO in the Haneef case, it finds that there was no conspiracy or improper purpose between the AFP and the Immigration Department to seek to have Dr Haneef deported.
Inquiry chairman John Clarke said that Mr Andrews acted out of genuine concern about terrorism.
Decisions were made at a time of heightened public concern following the failed bombings in Britain last June, grave suspicions about terrorism and a community expectation of action.
Still Inquiry said there should be clearer guidelines for laying terrorism charges, more co-operation between the police and intelligence agencies, direct ASIO advice to the immigration minister on deportation cases and a standing review of the terrorism laws and federal police.
Mr Clarke recommends that the AFP, ASIO and other agencies should face a parliamentary oversight committee.
The report is expected to be released this week, with the departments and agencies involved having already received their copies.
The trials of the other accused over the British terror attacks resulted last week in the conviction of Iraqi doctor Bilal Abdullah and the acquittal of his co-defendant, Mohamed Asha, a Jordanian neurologist.