Parliament must stop secret courts wrecking British justice

March 26, 2013

Commenting ahead of today’s [Tuesday 26 March] consideration by the Lords of Commons’ changes to the ‘Secret Courts’ Bill, Reprieve’s Executive Director, Clare Algar said:

“Secret courts will mean the end to the British right to a fair trial as we know it, and will put the Government above the law.

“The Lords must today do everything they can to limit the impact of this dangerous Bill. At the very least, that must mean reintroducing the changes that were stripped out by the Government in the House of Commons.

“The only safe course for British justice is for our Parliamentarians to kick out plans for secret courts altogether. However, they must also take any chance they get to vote for changes which might lessen the damage which this Bill will wreak on the British tradition of open and equal justice”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 7791 755 415 / donald.campbell@reprieve.org.uk

The House of Lords will debate changes made by the House of Commons to their amendments to the Justice and Security Bill on Tuesday 26 March.  During the Bill’s passage through the Lords, certain amendments were made to the Bill which aimed to allow judges to balance the competing public interests of justice and national security, and aimed to make the use of secret courts – known as ‘Closed Material Procedures’ – more of a last resort.  These amendments were stripped out by the Government in the Commons.  This is what the focus of the Lords’ consideration tommorrow (Tuesday) is expected to be.

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.

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