JCHR report exposes flimsy basis for Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s secret justice plans

April 4, 2012

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has today attacked the Government’s Green Paper on Justice and Security for using “vague predictions” and “spurious assertions” to justify dangerous changes to the legal system.

The cross-party committee of MPs and peers rejected the Government’s proposals for extending Closed Material Procedures (CMPs) across the civil justice system, describing them as “inherently unfair”.

With regard to Norwich Pharmacal – the legal method by which evidence of UK involvement in the torture of Binyam Mohamed was first obtained – the Committee stated that the Government’s proposal to effectively dispose of this was “disproportionate”. The Committee also questions ministers’ proposals to change the law in order to address what is simply “a misperception” on the part of the US; and calls on the Government to instead address this misunderstanding directly with US officials.

Commenting, Reprieve’s Executive Director Clare Algar said:

“This damning report exposes the flimsy basis for the Government’s secret justice plans.

“The Committee rightly points out that the Green Paper is built on little more than ‘vague predictions’ and ‘spurious assertions.’

“It also rightly condemns the Government’s plan to get rid of the legal method by which we found out about Britain’s involvement in torture and rendition, describing it as ‘disproportionate’ and incompatible with the rule of law.

“It should now be clear to ministers that these proposals must be dropped. To destroy our centuries-old tradition of open justice is bad enough. To do so based on unfounded gossip and misunderstanding would be nothing short of criminal.”


Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 427 1082 / (0) 7791 755 415 or go to Reprieve’s Justice and Security Green Paper page or read the report in full at the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

2. Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’ Follow Reprieve on twitter: @ReprieveUK; if you were forwarded this release, sign up to join our press mailing list.