Covert Derogations and Judicial Deference: Redefining Liberty and Due Process Rights in Counterterrorism Law and Beyond

By Fenwick, Helen; Phillipson, Gavin | McGill Law Journal, June 2011 | Go to article overview

Covert Derogations and Judicial Deference: Redefining Liberty and Due Process Rights in Counterterrorism Law and Beyond


Fenwick, Helen, Phillipson, Gavin, McGill Law Journal


This article considers the use of control orders in the United Kingdom as an example of one of the most important legal aspects of the "war on terror": the development, alongside the criminal justice approach, of a pre-emptive system. It argues that in relation to such orders the executive has in effect sought to redefine key human rights in a manner that, at its most extreme, amounts to covert derogation, and that both Parliament and the judiciary have been to an extent drawn into and made complicit in this process. It highlights key aspects of this story in order to illustrate some broader points about the role of judges, Parliament, and the rule of law in response to such exceptional measures. It argues that the attempted minimization of the ambit of rights, the spreading use of secret evidence, and the damaging constitutional impact of excessive judicial deference, are of great significance beyond UK counterterrorism law and can help illuminate both the opportunities and the dangers in constitutional dialogue.

Cet article etudie les ordres de controle au Royaume-Uni a titre d'exemple d'un des aspects les plus importants de la reponse juridique a la << guerre contre le terrorisme >> : le virage d'une justice penale reactive vers la creation d'un systeme preemptif parallele. Les auteurs soutiennent qu'en ce qui a trait a ces ordres, l'executif tente de redefinir les droits fondamentaux de la personne, ce qui, dans les situations extremes, revient a y deroger secretement. Ils ajoutent que tant le Parlement que l'appareil judiciaire ont d'une certaine maniere ete associes a ce processus et en sont devenus complices. L'essai souligne certains aspects de cet enjeu afin d'illustrer des questions plus larges sur le role des juges, du Parlement et de la primaute du droit face a de telles mesures exceptionnelles. Les auteurs soutiennent que cette tentative de reduire la portee des droits, l'utilisation croissante d'elements secrets de preuve ainsi que les effets dommageables de la deference judiciaire excessive sur la constitution ont une importance qui s'etend au-dela des lois anti-terroristes britanniques. Ces enjeux peuvent jeter de la lumiere tant sur les bienfaits que sur les dangers du dialogue constitutionnel.

Introduction

  I. Control Orders and the Legal Background
 II. Redeeming the Right to Liberty under Article 5 ECHR
     A. Imposing Article J ECHR Compliance in the Courts?
     B. The Stance ofdie European Court of Human Rights
        on "Deprivation of Liberty"
     C. Domestic Failure to Uphold Liberty?
     D. Conclusions: The Wider Significance of Adopting a
        Narrow Conception of "Deprivation of Liberty"
III. Due Process and Article 6 ECHR
     A. Introduction: The "Inherently One-Sided Procedure"
     B. The Spread of Secret Evidence in Proceedings in the
        United Kingdom and Beyond
     C. Risk Assessment, Intelligence, and Evidence
     D. Control Orders, Due Process, and the Domestic
        Judicial Response: Division and Partial Accommodation
     E. Intervention by the European Court of Human Rights:
        Principle Restored
     F. Conclusions on die Pre-A v. United Kingdom Case
        Law on Article 6: Covert Derogations and the Wider
        Constitutional Picture
 IV. Possible Responses: Probing National Security Claims to
     Allow Greater Disclosure and Prosecution
Conclusion
Postscript

Introduction

In contrast to the approach of the Bush administration in the United States, which adopted a military, extra-legal approach to certain aspects of its counterterror policy--including imprisonment in legal "black holes" at Guantanamo and other "ghost" prisons (1)--the United Kingdom has continued to ensure that even the extraordinary counterterror measures of detention without trial and subjection to control orders are clothed in legal authority and apparent human rights compliance. (2) The adoption of such exceptional measures in the United States and the United Kingdom represents a partial shift from a criminal justice response to the creation of a "pre-emptive" (3) system operating alongside the criminal justice approach--measures are taken against individuals based upon an assessment of the risk they pose, in terms of their likely future conduct. …

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