Gavin R. Putland,  BE PhD

Monday, July 16, 2007 (Comment)

Haneef: So much for the separation of powers

Yesterday I argued that the charge against Dr Mohamed Haneef was unconstitutional. Today the Minister for Immigration, by an executive decision, has rendered that point moot.

After magistrate Jacqui Payne granted bail to Dr Haneef, but before Dr Haneef could assemble the required surety, the Minister cancelled his visa and thereby turned him into an illegal immigrant, with the result that he could be held in custody on the basis of a mere suspicion, with or without a valid charge against him. Dr Haneef's lawyer learned of the decision through journalists.

The Minister refused to answer questions as to whether he was second-guessing the magistrate. Are we supposed to believe that the timing of his decision was coincidental, although it was based on suspicions that had existed since Dr Haneef was first detained?

Her Worship may now contemplate her importance in the scheme of things. As she toiled through the weekend assessing Dr Haneef's bail application, she might have thought she was deciding whether he was to be released pending his trial. Now she knows that the only issue before her was whether the continued detention of Dr Haneef was to be a judicial decision, or a political decision. If not in law, then at least in fact, she and her court have been treated with contempt.

While the purported “charge” against Dr Haneef is no longer needed for the purpose of detaining him, it has achieved at least one result: it allowed his formal arrest, so that he can no longer sue the media for repeatedly stating that he had been arrested when, as yet, he had only been detained. That diminishes his chances of getting any compensation in the event of his exoneration. Ingenious.

[First published at Reposted Aug.16, 2012.]

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