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Just as the Obama Administration appears to be revving up to propose a new regime of administrative detentions, Britain’s highest court has handed the government of Gordon Brown a serious setback, holding that aspects of their regime violate the human rights of the detainees. In particular, the British court upheld the notion that the detainee was entitled to be confronted with the accusations made against him. The Guardian reports:
The law lords have dealt a major blow to the government’s controversial use of control orders on terror suspects, saying that reliance on secret evidence denies them a fair trial. The nine-judge panel led by Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the senior law lord, upheld a challenge on behalf of three men on control orders who cannot be named. The orders have not been quashed but the law lords have ordered that the cases be heard again. The three had argued that the refusal to disclose even the “gist” of the evidence against them denied them a fair trial under the Human Rights Act.
The Home Office argued it was sometimes possible to have a fair hearing without any disclosure, depending on the circumstances of the case. Security-vetted special advocates are supposed to represent the interests of people placed on control orders. Orders imposed on individual suspects by the home secretary can include home curfews of up to 16 hours a day, a ban on travelling abroad, the approval of all visitors by the Home Office, monitoring of all phone calls, and bans on using the internet and mobile phones.
Figures in the Obama Administration have been looking to justify a special regime of administrative detention for individuals who are believed to pose a threat to national security but against whom insufficient evidence has been gathered to justify a criminal case. They have previously cited the British system of control orders, which exists exclusively in the context of immigration law, as a possible model.
In their ruling, the law lords insisted that the person subject to detention had an absolute right to know the suspicions directed against him. Lord Phillips wrote in his decision, “A trial procedure can never be considered fair if a party to it is kept in ignorance of the case against him.”
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”