International

Supreme court was right to ban use of secret evidence by intelligence services

posted on July 14, 2011 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Richard Norton-Taylor Source: The Guardian UK URL: [link] Date: July 13, 2011 Parliament must now reject government attempts to abandon the fundamental right to open justice

[PHOTO: Supreme court judges dismissed an attempt by the security forces to keep intelligence secret from those it was being used against.] Some very fine words were expressed by the supreme court judges as by majority they dismissed claims by MI5 and MI6 that any intelligence they have gathered must remain secret, withheld not only from the public but from their opponents in court. "The open justice principle is not a mere procedural rule," said Lord Dyson. "It is a fundamental common law principle." Parties have a right to know the case against them, and the right to confront their accusers, he said. "Any weakening in the face of advances in the methods and use of secret intelligence in a case such as this would be bound to lead to attempts to widen the scope for an exception to be made to the principle of open justice," warned Lord Hope.

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Supreme court bans use of secret evidence to hide torture claims

posted on July 14, 2011 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent Source: The Guardian UK URL: [link] Date: July 13, 2011 Intelligence services tried to exploit 'closed material procedures' to conceal evidence relating to Guantánamo detainees

[PHOTO: Binyam Mohamed and Jamil el-Banna, two of the former Guantánamo Bay detainees at the centre of the secret evidence case.] The supreme court has outlawed the use of secret evidence in court by the intelligence services to conceal allegations that detainees were tortured. The decision will be seen as a significant victory for open justice, but the panel of nine judges pointed out that parliament could change the law to permit such "closed material procedures" in future. The appeal was brought by lawyers for MI5 seeking to overturn an earlier appeal court ruling that prevented the service from suppressing accusations British suspects had been ill-treated at Guantánamo Bay and other foreign holding centres. The case arose originally out of claims by Bisher al-Rawi, Binyam Mohamed, Jamil el-Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes and Martin Mubanga that MI5 and MI6 aided and abetted their unlawful imprisonment and extraordinary rendition.

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Control order breached human rights say Supreme Court (UK)

posted on July 08, 2010 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Adam Wagner Source: UK Human Rights Blog URL: [link] Date: June 16, 2010 The Supreme Court have given the latest judgment on the controversial control order scheme, and in this case have allowed the appeal of a man suspected of terrorism on the grounds that confinement to a flat 150 miles away from his family amounted to a breach of his human rights. The Appellant was an Ethiopian national who was the subject of a control order. This confined him to a flat for 16 hours a day in a Midlands town 150 miles away from his family in London. The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal, set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal and restored the High Court’s order. Lord Brown gave the leading judgment. Lord Rodger and Sir John Dyson SCJ delivered concurring judgments. The press summary of the judgment can be read HERE and the summary below is drawn from it. Restriction on right to family life tipped the balance

Lord Brown confirmed that conditions which are proportionate restrictions upon Article 8 rights to respect for private and family life can ‘tip the balance’ in relation to Article 5 (which guarantees the right to liberty and security), ie whether they can be taken into account in holding that a control order is a deprivation of liberty when, absent those restrictions, it would not have been held to be such. In respect of whether the control order amounted a breach of AP’s Article 5 rights to liberty and security, Lord Brown was of the view that the Secretary of State was wrong to contend that, in assessing the weight to be given to the restrictive effects of a condition such as that imposed on AP here to reside in the Midlands, the judge should ignore everything that depends on the individual circumstances of the family.

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Secret Evidence: A Report by Eric Metcalfe (June 2009)

posted on November 15, 2009 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Eric Metcalfe, Director of Human Rights Policy for "Justice" Source: Justice URL: [link] Date: June 10, 2009 Report June 2009
Secret Evidence by Eric Metcalfe (PDF, 241 pages) DOWNLOAD LINK: Secret Evidence: Advancing access to justice, human rights and the rule of law

Justice, an independent legal human rights organisation based in London, Engand and founded in 1957 produced this report on the use of secret evidence in the UK's judicial system. The report details the following concerns: • It is a basic principle of a fair hearing that a person must know the evidence against him. • This core principle of British justice has been undermined as the use of secret evidence in UK courts has grown dramatically in the past 10 years. • Secret evidence can now be used in a wide range of cases including deportations hearings, control orders proceedings, parole board cases, asset-freezing applications, pre-charge detention hearings in terrorism cases, employment tribunals and even planning tribunals. • Defendants in some criminal cases are now being convicted on the basis of evidence that has never been made public. Criminal courts have issued judgments with redactions to conceal some of the evidence relied upon. Evidence from anonymous witnesses has also been used in hundreds of criminal trials and is widespread in ASBO hearings. • Since they were first introduced in 1997, almost 100 special advocates – lawyers prohibited from communicating with those they represent – have been appointed. Indeed, the government itself does not know how many special advocates have been appointed. • This report calls for an end to the use of secret evidence. Secret evidence is unreliable, unfair, undemocratic, unnecessary and damaging to both national security and the integrity of Britain’s courts. • In its place, this report sets out a series of recommendations that include the strengthening current disclosure procedures by the creation of public interest advocates to replace special advocates in PII claims; increasing the transparency of existing court procedures; and ending reliance on ‘reasonable suspicion’ in such proceedings as deportation and control orders. For further information contact the report's author Eric Metcalfe, Director of Human Rights Policy, emetcalfe AT justice.org.uk


Fighting secrecy in court

posted on June 11, 2009 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Afua Hirsch Source: The Guardian UK URL: [link] Date: June 10, 2009 A judgment condemning the use of special advocates in imposing control orders is another blow to an unfair system

Welcome to a new phase in the battle over counter-terrorism laws between parliament and the courts. Today's unanimous condemnation of the use of special advocates in imposing control orders by the House of Lords came as quite a surprise – overturning previous decisions upholding the system by the high court and the court of appeal. There have been judicial blows to this system in the past; including a House of Lords decision in October 2007 which ruled that the special advocate system did not provide sufficient safeguards. But the law lords disagreed wildly on the extent to which the "controlee", as those under control orders are known, should be provided with the case against him, and left the overall system of control orders in place. But today's judgment is a more fundamental blow. The House of Lords – in a powerful panel of nine judges – has decided that the system of secret advocates violates the right to a fair trial unless the controlee has access to at least the irreducible minimum of the case against them. The current system of secret advocates has not allowed this.

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The truth about Abu Zubaydah

posted on April 03, 2009 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Brent Mickum Source: The Guardian UK URL: [link] Date: March 30, 2009 The Bush administration's false claim that my client was a top al-Qaida official has led to his imprisonment and torture

This article was submitted to the CIA prior to publication. Passages redacted by the CIA are marked [...].

Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, more commonly known as Abu Zubaydah, is my client. After being extensively tortured by the CIA and imprisoned in various black sites around the world, Zayn may finally be approaching his day in court. I and my co-counsel welcome that day. But what if we are successful and establish that Zayn is not an enemy combatant? Would any country agree to take our client? The Bush administration's misrepresentations about Zayn make that virtually impossible unless I am allowed to tell his side of the story. This article is the first step in that reclamation process. For many years, Abu Zubaydah's name has been synonymous with the war on terror because of repeated false statements made by the Bush administration, the majority of which were known to be false when uttered. On 17 April 2002, [...] President Bush publicly announced that Zayn had been captured: "We recently apprehended one of al-Qaida's top leaders, a man named Abu Zubaydah. He was spending a lot of time as one of the top operating officials of al-Qaida, plotting and planning murder." Zayn's capture and imprisonment were touted as a great achievement in the fight against terrorism and al-Qaida. There was just one minor problem: the man described by President Bush and others within his administration as a "top operative", the "number three person" in al-Qaida, and al-Qaida's "chief of operations" was never even a member of al-Qaida, much less an individual who was among its "inner circle". The Bush administration had made another mistake. These facts really are no longer contested: Zayn was not, and never had been, a member of either the Taliban or al-Qaida. The CIA determined this after torturing him extensively and [...]. Zayn was never a member or a supporter of any armed forces that were allied against the United States. He had no weapon when he was taken into illegal custody. He never took up arms against the United States nor against its coalition allies. He was not picked up on a battlefield in Afghanistan at the time of his detention, but was taken into custody in Pakistan, where he was wrongfully attacked, shot, and nearly killed. So serious were his wounds that a surgeon from John Hopkins University was flown to Pakistan to perform emergency surgery to save the life of a man the Bush administration believed to be the number three man in al Qaeda.

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Documents Reveal U.S. Knowingly Transfers Detainees To Countries That Torture

posted on November 18, 2008 | in Category International | PermaLink

by News Release Source: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) URL: [link] Date: November 18, 2008 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 18, 2008 Controversial “Diplomatic Assurances” Revealed For The First Time In Records Obtained By ACLU And Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union and Columbia Law School's Human Rights Clinic released documents today revealing for the first time details of the U.S. government’s process for transferring individuals to countries where they face a significant risk of being tortured. The documents, which were uncovered as the result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the two organizations, shed new light on the fundamentally flawed practice of “diplomatic assurances” or secret promises obtained from foreign governments that they will not torture the returned individuals. “The United States' practice of relying on deeply flawed diplomatic assurances makes a mockery of our obligations under the Convention Against Torture,” said Judy Rabinovitz, Deputy Director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. “Now that President-elect Obama has pledged to end torture, it is a perfect time to put a stop to policies that permit the transfer of individuals facing torture in foreign countries. Our government should stop trusting such inherently unreliable assurances and immediately disclose all remaining records relating to this practice.” The documents released today include copies of actual diplomatic assurances – the first ever to be made public. The U.S. government has repeatedly insisted that the assurances must remain secret.

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Contradictory Verdicts in Australia’s Largest Terrorism Trial

posted on October 04, 2008 | in Category International | PermaLink

By Mike Head
Source: The World Socialist Website
URL: [link]
Date: September 27, 2008


Australia’s largest and most protracted terrorist trial ended with distinctly mixed results last week in Melbourne. After a Victorian Supreme Court trial that ran for 115 days, the nine women and three men on the jury took nearly four weeks to reach their verdicts. While they found seven of the twelve defendants guilty of terrorist-related offences, they acquitted four others of all charges and were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on another, who now faces a lengthy re-trial.

Those acquitted walked free after nearly three years in maximum security prison cells; the lawyers for those convicted have indicated that they will almost certainly appeal. No sentencing has yet occurred, but if the convictions were upheld, they could be jailed for between 10 and 50 years.

The trial became a major test case for the so-called “war on terror” and the draconian anti-terrorist legislation introduced by the former Howard government from 2002, with the Labor Party’s support. Most of the 12 Muslim men on trial were arrested in highly-publicised police raids in November 2005, just days after then prime minister John Howard declared there was an imminent terrorist threat and recalled the Senate for an emergency session to push through far-reaching amendments to the anti-terrorism laws.

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Algerian facing deportation to torture wins court battle

posted on July 02, 2008 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Press Release Source: Amnesty International URL: [link] Date: June 27, 2008

Amnesty International welcomes the decision by the Slovak Constitutional Court on 26 June 2008 in the case of Mustapha Labsi, which reaffirms the absolute duty on the authorities not to send any person to any place where they face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment, and underscores the obligation of Slovakia not to rely on diplomatic assurances. More details here.


British MPs approve hotly debated terror bill

posted on June 15, 2008 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Helen Kinsella
Source: The Globe and Mail
URL: N/A
Date: June 12, 2008


LONDON -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown escaped defeat by a hair's breadth in a packed House of Commons yesterday over controversial plans to allow police to detain suspected terrorists for as long as 42 days without charge.

Backing for the Counter-Terrorism Bill, which the government had said was necessary to deal with the increasing complexity and ruthlessness of terrorist plots, will come as some measure of relief to the embattled leader, who has suffered a series of blows in recent months.

Mr. Brown's authority, however, remains in question after he was forced to go into persuasion overdrive and ultimately rely on the support of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party to ensure victory, with the final count at 315 to 306.

With several Labour backbenchers threatening to defy the government over what they saw as an infringement of civil liberties, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith had announced a number of amendments in the lead-up to the vote. They included the requirement for an "exceptional and grave" terrorist threat, and parliamentary authorization within seven days of an application.

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