We need your help to stop the British Government's assault on open justice – please raise your concerns with your MP.
Through the UK courts we have successfully challenged our security services on their complicity in the torture of Guantanamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed and, more recently, on their role in the rendition of an entire family to Gaddafi’s Libya.
But the government is planning to introduce changes to the legal system which will stop these accountability cases in their tracks, badly damaging our centuries-old tradition of open justice and making it far easier to cover up state involvement in torture.
The Justice and Security Bill and why we oppose it
The Justice and Security Bill would roll out secret courts across the civil justice system, allowing the Government to cover up serious human rights abuses and effectively putting them above the law. Ministers also plan to ban the legal method by which we first found out about the UK’s involvement in Binyam Mohamed’s torture.
What you can do
With your help, we can stop these changes. The Bill is now before the House of Commons, so please write to your MP to ask them to oppose plans for secret courts, which are contained in Part 2 of the Bill.
You can find the contact details for your MP, or email them direct, using the link below.
Points to mention
In your letters and emails, you may want to raise the following points:
(1) Justice The emergence of cases like Binyam Mohamed do not indicate a problem with our justice system, as the Government claims. Rather, the problem is a spate of unprecedented wrongdoing by the British and American intelligence services. The emergence of these cases shows that the justice system works.
(2) Transparency There is no need to extend secret courts - known as 'Closed Material Procedures' - across the board to civil cases. This would needlessly introduce secrecy to the British courts, damaging a centuries-long tradition of fair and open justice. It is entirely unecessary when tools already exist to ensure information concerning national security can be kept secret.
(3) Accountability The proposed ban on Norwich Pharmacal (the legal principle in Binyam Mohamed which addresses complicity in wrongdoing) threatens the accountability of our security services. Plans for a ban must be dropped, to ensure that any Government involvement in wrongdoing remains reviewable by a court.