03-04-10

Counter-terrorism laws: take action before the elections!


Hoge.Pompei

JCHR report on counter-terrorism laws & take action before the elections

April 2 2010

The parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) published a report on 25 March: Counter-Terrorism Policy and Human Rights: Bringing Human Rights Back In

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200910/jtselec...

The report called for a review of all counter-terrorism laws passed since 9/11 to consider whether they are still necessary, including the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, which introduced the control order regime.

Part 4 of the report focuses on the use of secret evidence:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200910/jtselec...

Commenting on the roll out of the use of secret evidence over the past ten years, the report said that its scope includes that “It can now be used in a wide range of cases including deportation hearings, control order proceedings, parole board cases, asset-freezing applications, employment tribunals, and even claims for damages. We note that in Binyam Mohamed's and others' claim for compensation the High Court has held that special advocates and secret evidence may be used for the first time in a civil action for damages” (55).

Concerning the government’s response to recent judgments on the use of secret evidence in control order and SIAC cases, the report calls for a review of the use of secret evidence and special advocates:


"The Government's response to the A and AF judgments suggest that it considers itself free to press on with the use of secret evidence and special advocates in the other contexts in which they are used, without pausing to take stock of the wider implications of these significant rulings. Although the Government says that it is considering whether changes to the Parole Board's procedures are needed, we have not seen any evidence to suggest that the Government has in fact considered the implications of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in A v UK for all the other contexts in which special advocates and secret evidence are used. We recommend that the Government urgently conduct a comprehensive review of the use of secret evidence and special advocates, in all contexts in which they are used, in light of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the House of Lords, to ascertain how often they are used and whether their use is compatible with the minimum requirements of the right to a fair hearing as interpreted in those judgments, and to report to Parliament on the outcome of that review”(62).

The run up to the general election is a good time to write to your MP and ask your candidates in the forthcoming elections what their views are and what their pledges would be, if successful in the election, concerning secret evidence.

Below is a model letter containing points you may also raise with candidates in person:



Dear XXX,

As a candidate for my constituency in the forthcoming general elections, I would like to know what your views are on the issue of the use of secret evidence, and what you would do to ensure that everyone has equal access to the justice system and the right to a fair trial.
As you may be aware, the use of secret evidence had proliferated over the past ten years, particularly in cases relating to suspected terrorist activity. Cases involving control orders and deportations to states that practice torture can be held in closed session with the use of secret advocates, who represent claimants/appellants, but cannot communicate with them or their counsel once they have seen the secret evidence. Effectively, those involved in the system cannot defend themselves adequately, nor have a fair trial.

This has recently been noted in several court judgments and reports by parliamentary bodies and NGOs, including a recent JCHR report of 25 March, which calls for a review of the use of secret evidence and secret advocates. However, recent judgments overturning control orders, in particular on the basis that the controlee had crucial evidence withheld from them, did not stop MPs from voting control orders back in for a fifth time in March, though they were originally introduced as an emergency and temporary measure.

The use of secret evidence has also rolled out more recently into other areas of the law such as employment tribunals and parole hearings.

I look forward to your response.

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Info: Maryam Hassanhttp://www.facebook.com/?sk=messages&tid=1329979500990


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