Justice in Secret is No Justice At All

The terms of the Justice and Security Bill (presently before the House of Lords) are chilling. It would hand to the executive an unchallengeable right to withhold from a public hearing whatever it certifies to be a matter of national security.

Claims against the UK government for unlawful rendition, torture and extra-judicial killing would often be heard behind closed doors. When they were turned down, no-one would know why.
How sound are the arguments advanced on behalf of this bill?

Of course it affects national security when British military and agents are involved in torture, rendition and unlawful killings. A great backlash of anger towards the UK is inevitable, and is a daily reality in many countries.

But in fact, our national proclivity for torture and killing is not a secret to its victims. The people who are not supposed to know are closer to home. The voting public of the UK, in fact.

Ken Clarke has done his best to defend this bill. It creates a forum, he says, for cases that otherwise cannot be heard. But how is the public interest served by having it heard in secret? Not at all. If justice is not done in public, how can anyone judge if it is justice at all.

Would this power be abused? You can bet it would!

Its really important that this bill is rejected, and that the real public interest – in the rule of law, in open and transparent courts – is upheld.

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