Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dr Haneef's Visa Reinstated

While I was away at South West Rocks, the full bench of the Australian Federal Court dismissed the appeal launched by former Immigration Minister Andrews against a previous court decision reinstating Dr Haneef's visa. Now the new Government has sensibly decided not to take the matter any further.

Neil has already written about this. You will find some of the media coverage here and here. I put my own position here very clearly back at the end of July.

As I see it, the Haneef case was first and foremost a failure in process. I am not referring just to the evolving fiasco of the charge itself, but to what I see as a more fundamental failure of compassion, common sense and plain good manners.

This remains my position.

Two things and two things only protect us as citizens against the unfair use of asymmetrical and coercive state power.

The first are our traditions and ethical codes, a belief in process, in individual rights. The second is our legal system. This comes into play when, as in the Haneef case, the first fails.

The freedoms we presently enjoy did not just appear. They had to be fought for over a long period, sometimes against the majority weight of public opinion itself. To my mind, this remains true today.

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