The Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights’ response to the Government’s consultation to extend “closed material proceedings” to all civil proceedings

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has criticised the Government’s consultation to extend “closed material procedures” to all civil proceedings for being “inherently unfair”. However, it has at the same time recognised the gravity of the concerns behind the Green Paper, in particular the anxieties of the US that intelligence information is not predictably handled in the UK courts. For these reasons, the JCHR suggests to address the problem in a way that would be more “proportionate” than a simple extension of the closed material procedure.

A good summary of the proposals has been offered by Rosalind English:

“The Committee proposes that this common law procedure would be improved by the following steps:

1) introducing a presumption, written in to legislation, against disclosing any sensitive intelligence material

2) requiring courts to acknowledge a specific list of factors which require disclosure of security-sensitive material

3) obliging courts, before removing all evidence critical to the case under PII, to consider halfway house devices such as redactions, confidential rings and “in private” hearings so that a claim can be properly determined with some of the evidence still intact.” (http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2012/04/04/secret-justice-do-we-have-a-compromise/)

 


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