Human rights campaigners condemned secret justice plans unveiled in today's Queen’s speech as a “sell out to the security forces.”
The measures, contained in the government’s justice and security green paper, would allow closed civil court cases where the government or security services claim a “national security” justification.
Civil liberties groups have said the proposals will effectively put the government above the rule of law and put an end to the centuries-old principle of open justice.
The proposals were drawn up in direct response to the civil action brought by a number of former Guantanamo detainees including Binyam Mohamed against the British government for complicity in their rendition and torture by the US and other foreign states.
The government was forced to settle out of court in that case after a lengthy legal battle to prevent further embarrassing evidence being made public.
Amnesty International policy adviser Tara Lyle said proposals for secret justice measures “are dangerous and should be dropped.
“They will allow the government to throw a cloak of secrecy over wrongdoing, including matters as serious as the alleged involvement by UK officials in human rights violations like rendition, secret detention and torture.
“After David Cameron promised to get to the bottom of allegations of complicity in human rights violations by UK officials, this Bill is a sell out to the security services.
“The victims of human rights abuses as well as the general public have a right to learn the truth about whether and how government officials have been involved in human rights violations like rendition, secret detention and torture.
And executive director of legal charity Reprieve Clare Algar said: “Closed courts will not strengthen oversight of the intelligence agencies — in fact, they will do precisely the opposite.
“They will put the government above the law.
“The proposals for secret justice would massively skew courts in favour of ministers, and prevent the public from finding out the truth about serious wrongdoing.
“The reality is that these plans are designed to spare the intelligence agencies embarrassment.
“They are a recipe for unfair and unaccountable government.”
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