Saturday, February 27, 2010

Open justice wins again in the UK

Two weeks ago, the UK Court of Appeal forced the government to reveal evidence it held showing that Binyam Mohamed had been tortured by the US. They also took a swipe at MI5, accusing them of lying to Parliament and having a "culture of suppression". The government was outraged - the courts couldn't be allowed to conclude, based on the evidence, that MI5 lied repeatedly about torture - that might make the government look dishonest. And so in an unprecedented move which ignored 400 years of legal protocol, a government lawyer wrote to the judge to have that criticism removed from the final judgement.

But while they were successful in removing the words from the formal record, they weren't able to do it in secret. The government's letter (and the information it contained on the draft judgement) was immediately leaked to the press, and several groups immediately went to court in an effort to have it restored. Today, the Court of Appeal agreed, and published their criticism in full. You can read it here.

As a result of this case, and several others like it, human rights groups in the UK are now pushing for a full judicial inquiry into MI5's complicity in torture. Hopefully they will succeed. This rot must be cut out, by dragging the spies out into the light of day and prosecuting them.