Discussion paper

The dangers of character tests: Dr Haneef and other cautionary tales

10 Oct 2008

This discussion paper describes the rise of character provisions in Commonwealth laws over the last ten years. The use of character testing has increased in traditional areas, such as migration and citizenship, and has moved into new areas of law, such as the employment of persons in critical industries and criminal law. The first time character testing has been examined in a thematic way across several legal and policy subject areas, the paper finds that character tests are often framed in subjective terms and are part of executive decision-making, raising issues of transparency and accountability. This phenomenon has been incremental, which is why it is important to pause and reflect on the changes over the last decade.

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