"Richard built this website from his Sheffield bedroom and his computer server wasn't even US-based but still he faces being dragged across the Atlantic for trial. His plight shames our extradition system and the coalition needs to honour past promises and put some compassion and common sense back into the law." Emma Norton, legal officer for Liberty.
In a scene reminiscent of the campaign against 42-day pre-charge detention under the last Government, parliamentarians from across the spectrum, lawyers, journalists and our sister NGOs met to discuss the terrifying Secret Justice Green Paper yesterday afternoon.
Over the weekend, the news “broke” (perhaps “cracked” or “seeped” is a more appropriate metaphor?), that a certain Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky will no longer be part of the Government’s Bill of Rights’ Commission. There are conflicting reports as to whether the good doctor walked or was pushed and sadly, we may never know whether Professor Plum did it in the library with the lead piping.
Today Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke gave evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the Government’s Justice and Security Green Paper. These dangerous and unnecessary proposals would allow the Executive’s dirty secrets to be hidden from victims, the press and public and make a mockery of the fundamental constitutional principle that no-one – including the State – is above the law.
The worst excesses of the War on Terror were revealed by open courts and a free media. Now the Empire strikes back and the Secret Justice Green Paper brought to us from the pen of the security agencies seeks to put the State above the law and hobble press and public scrutiny.
The Convention and Court of Human Rights only exist because less than a century ago, much of Europe descended into tyranny and butchery. Britain's Winston Churchill sometimes stood alone but he knew the enduring value of defending fundamental rights and freedoms with the Rule of Law so as not constantly to have to defend them through war. The ECHR is his post-war legacy.
This week Liberty turned 78 years old. It’s hard to believe but it’s now been more than three quarters of a century since we were first formed as the National Council for Civil Liberties. That sounds like a long time, but the similarities between February 1934 and February 2012 are quite startling.