Remember, this is someone who has been charged with nothing more than giving his telephone SIM card to his cousin, because it was no longer of any use to him. It has not been claimed that he did so with thre intent of furthering his cousin's terrorist plotting. His offense has been merely to have a cousin and not assuming this cousin might be a terrorist and
The Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews has said that Mohammed Haneef will be deported from Australia, regardless of the outcome of criminal
proceedings against him.
''The Federal Police will issue what's called a criminal justice certificate. That means he will remain in Australia while the legal proceedings are afoot. After that, unless there's some new information provided or if there is some change as a result of legal proceedings, he would be deported,'' said the minister.
This is berserk. He has had his visa cancelled and is to be held in detention as he no longer has a legal right to be in Australia, and will now be deported. This is all based on Andrews's interpretation of his powers to cancel visas on the character test outlined in Section 501 of the Migration Act, 1958. (2) This is the part Andrews's used to justify cancelling Haneef's visa:
I'm interested in the definition of 'association' in this context. Is it enough simply that he flatted with some people who went on to commit crimes? If so, I might be denied a visa to Aussie, as would every student who has ever lived with (or perhaps even talked to - that is 'associating') someone who has smoked a spliff or popped an E. It is a uselessly vague concept, or - from the minister's point of view - uselfully vague. he has the power to throw any immigrant he likes out of the country, as long as he 'reasonably suspects' that the person may have once known a criminal, no matter how superficially.
(3) The Minister may:
(a) refuse to grant a visa to a person; or
(b) cancel a visa that has been granted to a person;
(c) the Minister reasonably suspects that the person does not pass the
(6) For the purposes of this section, a person does not pass the character test if:
(b) the person has or has had an association with someone else, or with a group
or organisation, whom the Minister reasonably suspects has been or is involved
in criminal conduct (3)
This could have interesting rammifications. Will the All Blacks be allowed to enter Australia, as they all know (and continue to ASSOCIATE with) the likes of Sione Lauaki(4), and Sitiveni Sivivatu(5). After all, you - or your 'associates' - don't need to have been found guilty of any criminal activity. The minister just needs to 'reasonably suspect' you - or your 'associates' - have been, or are, engaging in it.
Andrews has stuck to the letter of the law in this case and I'm comfortable with the idea that an immigration minister has the power to cancel a visa in the manner outlined in Section 501. But I find the speed that Andrews used his power. It seems hasty and vindictive. I know the minister need only 'reasonably suspect' criminal association, but it doesn't follow that he needs to use his powers immediately on that suspicion being formed. Would it have hurt to wait? After all, the minister said it wasn't related to Haneef being granted bail. Yeah, right ...
It seems like a vicious and entirely deliberate attempt by Andrews and the Howard government to play to the gallery by throwing this man - found guilty of nothing and not charged with anything substanial - out of the country. The fact that he's a Muslim, and brown, isn't a factor. Of course not.
1 - "Mohammed Haneef to be deported," NDTV Correspondent, Tuesday, July 17, 2007. (http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070019211&ch=7/17/2007%204:25:00%20PM)
2 - "MIGRATION ACT 1958 - SECT 501: Refusal or cancellation of visa on character grounds," retreived from Australian Immigration website on 17th July 2007. (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ma1958118/s501.html)
3 - ibid.
4 - "All Black Lauaki admits assault," nzpa ARTICLE, Wednesday February 01, 2006. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10366327
5 - "Praise as judge names and shames Sivivatu,"by Simon O'Rourke in the New Zealand Herald, Friday April 13, 2007. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10434024