Government changes to the Justice and Security Bill this week make it even more draconian and unjust, campaigners said today.
They warned that ministers had successfully pushed amendments through a parliamentary committee which would further strengthen their ability to make use of secret courts as and when they see fit.
The Bill had received minor modifications in the Lords which would have slightly curtailed the powers of ministers to push civil court proceedings into closed material procedures (CMPs) by citing "national security."
But even those minor changes have been reversed.
The public bill committee passed a government amendement stripping the judge of the ability to balance justice and security.
Labour MP Andy Slaughter told the committee the government had rejected the approach that the courts, the House of Lords, committees of both Houses, the official Opposition, special advocates and leading non-governmental organisations have taken to CMPs.
He said the amendment deleted or distorted safeguards that previous amendments had sought to impose.
"The overall intent of the amendment is to make CMPs not the last resort but the almost inevitable recourse of the court, where they are put in issue."
In a CMP, the side opposing the government would be excluded from the court room and would be unable to hear the evidence used against them.
Campaigners argue that this not only hands a huge advantage to the government's lawyers but also allows ministers to suppress embarrassing facts, such as complicity in torture.
The government also saw off attempts to prevent secret courts being used in cases where someone's liberty is at stake.
It means that in future those challenging their wrongful imprisonment could remain locked up without knowing why.
Legal action charity Reprieve executive director Clare Algare said ministers were "not prepared to listen to reason" over secret courts.
"They have undermined even the minor changes made by the House of Lords - all the while claiming that they are doing the opposite," she said.
"The problem is that secret courts are simply not compatible with our centuries-old traditions of equal justice."
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