Magazine article New Internationalist

Ssh. Secret Courts

Magazine article New Internationalist

Ssh. Secret Courts

Article excerpt

BRITAIN

The British Parliament has passed the controversial Justice and Security Act, after extensive debate. Described as 'dangerous and damaging' by civil liberties groups, this law introduces 'secret courts' into non-criminal areas of the British justice system.

In practice, this means that, where a court is hearing a 'national security' case, an individual will soon be able to lose their case without knowing why.

To justify this drastic break with Britain's centuries-old tradition of adversarial justice, the government argues that it needs to be able to use sensitive intelligence to defend itself against accusations - growing in number - of complicity in grave human rights abuses, such as torture and 'rendition' (kidnap). It says it has been forced to pay compensation unnecessarily to victims of torture because it is unable to disclose classified evidence.

The Act fixes this inconvenience by allowing the government to ask a court to go into closed session. …

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