Secret justice is a form of secret indictment, which uses closed material procedures during civil inquests and litigations. Under the secret justice, it is suggested that government can invoke these procedures, if it deems that the disclosure of these procedures is not in the public interest. The implication of this justive approach is that ordinary citizens bring civil claims lodged against state organs, and the state could be potentially barred from their hearing. Similarly, under secret justice, the lawyer of a client is also barred from hearing, and families, press, and public could fall under the same circumstances, if the state deems so. The government justifies this proposal on the grounds of terrorism and national security. There is a need to critically evaluate the fairness sale of the secret justice approach, and determine whether it is really justice or not. This essay proves that social justice is not a justice, and only serves to infringe the civil liberties of the people.
Those arguing against the use of the secret justice assert that it is a form of an unprecedented attempt aimed at undermining the administration of justice. For instance, the Amnesty International, when commenting on the UK’s government proposal regarding the use of secret evidence, argued that it poses a real threat to the established principles of openness, transparency, justice, and fairness. The UK government was proposing the secret justice approach under the private evidence proposed in the Justice and Security Bill. However, proponents of the secret justice approach stated that secret justice is needed to allow government contest civil claims in the court system. Government justified the use of the secret justice on the grounds that it has continually wasted taxpayer’s funds on settling civil claims, because it does not have the capacity to contest the civil cases, since the evidence that the government may wish to produce may be a “top secret” that can be disclosed in an open court. The proponents of the secret justice approach argue that it will address this problem by allowing the government to present its national security-sensitive evidence through closed procedure hearings. Fundamentally, the proponents of the secret justice cite that there is no need to disclose evidence that belongs to national security. However, it is apparently evident that this approach of justice is not consistent with the provisions of civil liberties and the principles of fairness, which is a core requirement of any justice system.
There are other avenues through which the secret justice method undermines the administration of justice. For instance, giving judge the power to invoke a closed material procedure (CMP) fails to address the fundamental unfairness, rooted in the CMP system. After the CMP has been established, the judge will only hear the one-sided account of the civil case, which is not a subject of challenge by the other party. As a result, the judge is likely to be co-opted in a judicial system that is not fair, and rulings will be made with the aim of giving the government impunity for its wrongdoings. The underlying observation is that the secret justice approach gives the government an advantage in civil claims lodged against it, and will strip away the aspects of fair trial protections, which is a fundamental pillar of the fairness of the justice system. It is apparent that the secret justice system only serves to mock the respect of the justice system, hinders the scrutiny of the government, and could impose significant limits of press freedom.
In conclusion, it is clear that, regarding fairness, the secret justice seems to give the government an upper hand in civil claims lodged against it. Proponents of the secret justice approach state that it will provide the government with a chance to present national security-sensitive evidence under closed materials procedures. However, in reality, this appears as a mean of government to protect itself from public scrutiny. Thus, secret justice is not justice at all, and infringes fundamental civil libertie