Government Considers Making Amendments to Justice and Security Bill
Parliament has proposed a number of controversial changes to the Security and Justice Bill early last week. Some politicians adamantly support the potential changes. However, many interest groups fighting to protect civil liberties are concerned there may serious implications if these changes go into effect.
These amendments would create several key changes that have created outrage among many groups. First of all, the new bill calls to reform parliament’s intelligence and security committee. This committee handles oversight of the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service, the Government Communications Headquarters and other intelligence and communications agencies.
The possible changes to the intelligence and security committee have stirred up a fair amount of controversy among many groups. However, the most concerning change in the bill is a revision that would expand the use of secret courts. The procedures used to conduct trials in secret courts could be extended to apply to the main civil courts as well.
Human rights activists have stated that this would create a shift of power from judge’s to ministers. They fear that this could deprive defendants of their right to a fair trial.
These changes were originally suggested in the House of Lords. Members of Parliament in the House of Commons support some measures of the bill, but may not support them in their entirety.
Many Democrats believe that the new revisions are a step in the right direction. However, some members of the party don’t believe the government should expand secret courts.
Justice Andy Slaughter said that the right to a fair trial must be held paramount when considering the use of secret courts. He said that all secret court hearings used in civil court trials will need to be carefully scrutinized to ensure defendants’ liberties are not infringed upon. Slaughter and many other lawmakers will probably be reluctant to support the changes until the necessary constitutional safeguards are put into place.