Human rights: Cameron plans ‘secret courts’ despite protests from Clegg

Human rights: Cameron plans ‘secret courts’ despite protests from Clegg

David Cameron has spoken out to support plans to indoctrinate so called ‘secret courts’ into UK law, despite protests from his coalition partner, Nick Clegg.

The plans will see intelligence-related cases heard behind closed doors, and may also impose greater surveillance on internet users.

The plans, which have been criticised by the House of Commons human rights committee this week, will see cases involving sensitive intelligence heard away from public and media scrutiny. Downing Street claims that the proposals will make it easier for the judiciary to see what intelligence was being used, and will limited damages claims.

The plans have been drafted following threats from the CIA that intelligence would not be shared if the UK Government could not guarantee that sensitive information would not end up in the public eye.

The case on Binyam Mohammed highlighted the problems this can cause for the CIA.

Mr Mohammed was detained and subjected to torture practices in Pakistan. In court evidence was heard, which not only blew the CIA cover but also resulted in a costly civil suit against the security services that were complicit in the actions.

MI5 and MI6 have subsequently warned the Government that the threat of intelligence being leaked in court has since resulted in £20m being paid in compensation to 16 former Guantanamo Bay detainees to avoid their cases being heard in open court.

Making the case for the legislation, David Cameron pointed to gaps in our defences which would leave us vulnerable to organised crime and terrorism.

“As I see it, there are some significant gaps in our defences, gaps because of the moving on of technology: people making telephone calls through the internet, rather than through fixed lines. There are also gaps in our defences because it isn’t currently possible to use intelligence information in a court of law without sometimes endangering national security,” he said.

Clare Algar is the executive director of Reprieve, the charity which represented Mr Mohammed in his legal case.

“What the Government is proposing is a system in which they can use whatever evidence they like against the citizen, but the citizen is unable to challenge or even to see that evidence. This is unacceptable in any circumstances,” she said.

Related links:

Read more on the story (The Guardian)

Human rights (FindLaw)

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