The UK government’s plans to extend secret hearings into the civil courts will lead to a diminishing in the open administration of justice, Index on Censorship has said in a letter to the Joint Committee on Human Rights
The Justice and Security Green Paper, which will be heard by Committee in an evidence hearing in March, aims to “better equip our courts to pass judgment in cases involving sensitive information”.
Under the proposals, not only could ministers order a hearing of sensitive civil cases to be conducted in secret — undermining the core principle of open justice and hampering the right of the public to see justice being done — but the proceedings would also deny the claimant access to government evidence or witnesses submitted during the case. In addition, the final judgment could be wholly or partially withheld.
These proposals would allow the government to withhold information from open scrutiny that may demonstrate the complicity of the UK security services with human rights violations. The victim of such violations will be prevented from seeking remedy through civil proceedings in an open court, and the ability of the media to hold the government to account for human rights violations will be severely reduced.
Read Index’s letter to the Joint Committee on Human Rights below.
Index on Censorship letter to Joint Committee on Human Rights