Supreme Court blocks government on secret courts

By agency reporter
July 5, 2018

The Supreme Court has blocked Government attempts to expand the application of secret courts in the first challenge to the laws before the country’s highest court. 

A majority of Supreme Court Justices confirmed that the provisions of the Justice and Security Act 2013 which allow court hearings to be held behind closed doors – so-called Closed Material Proceedings – cannot be used in a criminal cause or matter, including a judicial review of a decision not to prosecute.

The judgement was made in the case Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar who were challenging a decision not to prosecute a senior MI6 officer for his involvement in their torture and rendition to Gaddafi’s Libya in 2004. The Government agreed to settle that case and issued an unprecedented apology to the couple in May this year ( but the Supreme Court decided to rule on the appeal before it because of the importance of the issue.

 Maya Foa, Director of the human rights organisation Reprieve, said: “Government attempts to force more and more cases into the black hole of secret courts have been dealt a significant blow today. This noxious Act was passed at the behest of the security agencies who claimed that unsubstantiated claims of kidnap and torture were being brought against them. Last week’s damning reports from the ISC give the lie to this toxic project. 

"Parliament should now repeal the broken Justice and Security Act and remove the ability of Government to abuse fundamental principles of open justice. 

"This judgment also shows once again why we need an independent, judge-led inquiry into UK involvement in torture and rendition, as even after all that has emerged about British involvement in Abdel-Hakim and Fatima’s case it has been excluded from the remit of both the Gibson and ISC inquiries.“

* Reprieve


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