Sunday, July 22, 2007

Scrambling to end the story

Now that the Mohammed Haneef prosecution has backfired messily, the Australian government is scrambling to dump its sudden hot potato. Their preferred solution? Cancel the Criminal Justice Certificate (which allows him to stay in Australia while the case against him is resolved) and just deport him:

"Our best option is to cancel the Criminal Justice Certificate, which was issued to keep Haneef here in Australia after we cancelled his visa, and that is my understanding of what our intentions are," one Government source said.

"Cancel the certificate and get this guy out of Australia. The story ends there and he can become someone else's problem."

The aim here is of course explicitly political:

"There is no upside proceeding with this. We keep him here, then it remains an issue every day until the election. We deport him and it's over," the source said.

Which is ironic, given that the reason the government has made such a stink about Haneef - whose charges smack of guilt by association and shouldn't pass the laugh test - was so they could whip up fear and make it an issue every day until the election.

The Australian government's treatment of Mohammed Haneef has been despicable. For them to now attempt to shuffle him under the carpet to cover up their embarassing mistake even worse. It is unjust, and a gross misuse of the immigration system for political purposes. Haneef deserves his day in court so he can clear his name. But that is the last thing a government obsessed with using terror to whip up pre-election fear wants.