Haneef's lawyer thinks Australia's proposed terror law is not going far

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Brisbane, Aug. 14 (ANI): A lawyer for erstwhile Indian-born terror suspect, Mohamed Haneef, has slammed the proposed changes in Australia's anti-terror laws.

The Australian quoted Stephen Keim SC, as saying that the changes announced this week by Attorney-General Robert McClelland were "ad hoc" and fell short of the comprehensive overhaul needed to perfect the laws.

Keim specially criticized a provision that would impose a cap on the amount of time police could detain a terror suspect without charge.

Currently police have 20 hours to interview a suspect but can apply for downtime to pursue their investigations, potentially allowing for an open-ended period of detention.

"The government and those who advised them on these matters have not really thought through what they're dealing with," he said.

The Brisbane-based barrister also expressed reservations about plans to expand the definition of a terrorist act to include "psychological" as well as physical harm.

"This is not the major review of the terrorist laws that everybody says needs to happen. One of the major problems with the terrorist laws is that you have a broadly defined definition of terrorism and this makes it worse," he said.

However, the man who drafted the existing suite of laws, former attorney-general Philip Ruddock indicated in-principle support for the Rudd government's changes.

"I always saw counter-terrorist laws as an unfinished canvas. The reason for questioning detention was to ensure that a person would be available for questioning in terrorist offences rather than going to ground," Ruddock said.

Ruddock said that existing laws protected detainees by requiring the police to provide justification for keeping them in custody.

"In the Haneef matter it was the subject of continuing judicial review and in the end the magistrate decided that the police had had sufficient time. It seems to me that the protection was there," he added. (ANI)

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