UK considers secret courts for pre-trial terror hearings

[JURIST] Britain's Home Office [official website] said Tuesday that the UK government is considering a move to special judge-only courts hearing in-camera evidence argued by security-cleared "special advocates" after reports surfaced that secret pre-trial terror hearings could be in the works. The Home Office said that no specific model was being examined, but a Guardian report claims that the judges in such courts would likely review evidence without a jury to decide how long a suspect should be detained without charge. Prime Minister Tony Blair last week said the government was contemplating new court procedures [JURIST report; statement text] as part of a number of new proposals put forth to combat Islamic extremism. Responding to the Home Office confirmation, Shami Chakrabarti, the Director of Liberty UK said Tuesday :

...the thought of secret hearings where once again the accused will never hear the case against them fills me with dread. We need to move away from the shadowy world of secret suspicions and return to charges, evidence and proof. The involvement of a Judge cannot sanitise an unfair process.
Read Liberty's detailed reaction to Blair's twelve-point anti-terror plan [press release]. AFP has more.

 

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