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The best bit of this post has been redacted

Secrecy, it seem, begets secrecy. Seven former Guantánamo prisoners who are pursuing a case for compensation from the UK government for alleged complicity by the intelligence services in their detention and abuse are running up against a wall of secrecy. This, after all, is the secret intelligence service they’re trying to bring to task.

Fine. Quite understandably MI5 and MI6 agents have to operate covertly. Being discrete, staying undercover is what they do. It's their modus operandi. But does that mean that when and if they cooperate with overseas torturers their misdeeds should still remain secret?

You’d think not, but that seems to be the upshot of Mr Justice Silber’s ruling in the High Court this morning. With all eyes on parliament and the Queen’s Speech, Siber’s low-key announcement in Court 24 at the Royal Courts of Justice was that the government could rely on so-called “closed court” procedures when it comes to “sensitive material” that might bear on issues of “national security”.

What does that mean? Well, we’re back in the Kafkaesque world of “special advocates” (as with SIAC hearings and control orders), where instead of you or your lawyer getting to look at the evidence, you are barred from seeing it and instead a third party stands in for you. Except they don’t, not really. Because the stuff you’re prevented from seeing is seen for you by a special advocate who … is not allowed to take instructions from you or even tell you what they’ve seen. Supposedly the advocate “represents” your interests – but how, I’ve no idea.

So, are you now clear on that? No, me neither. By such arcane devices – ones inimical to justice if you ask me – the notoriously secret state intends to keep its secrets well and truly hidden.

Could there be some kind of pattern here? After interminable government stonewalling over apparently damning material showing UK collusion in Binyam Mohamed’s torture, and – more recently – new legislation that can mean coroner’s inquests are replaced by secret inquiries, you might just think the secret state had something to hide.

So, I’ve got to get something off my chest here. This is what I think of all this. It’s a complete [xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx – REDACTED ON SECURITY GROUNDS – xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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