Responding to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) verdict which found that the Romanian government acted unlawfully when they deported two Pakistani nationals residing legally in Romania, based on secret evidence seen only by the government and the courts, Simon Crowther, Legal Advisor at Amnesty International said:
These men were living legally in Romania when, for reasons that they have never been formally told, they were ordered to leave the country. Today justice has been done, but the fact that the evidence has been kept secret since they were removed in 2012 means that this comes almost 10 years too late.Simon Crowther, Legal Advisor at Amnesty International
“These men were living legally in Romania when, for reasons that they have never been formally told, they were ordered to leave the country. Today justice has been done, but the fact that the evidence has been kept secret since they were removed in 2012 means that this comes almost 10 years too late.
“Romania is sadly not alone in carrying out hearings based on secret evidence. Too many governments remove people using information that neither they nor their lawyers have seen or been able to properly challenge. That carries a high risk of miscarriages of justice, and even torture or other ill-treatment if a person is sent to a country where they are at risk.
“Court proceedings in which everyone but the government is excluded are unfair because they hinder justice being done and being seen to be done. In these proceedings lawyers and their clients are denied access to evidence and so cannot challenge it properly, because it is classified. Amnesty International calls for the practice of using classified evidence in court to accuse people of wrongdoing to end.”
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Amnesty intervened in this ECtHR Grand Chamber Case concerning the right to fair immigration proceedings, that will have implications on the use of classified evidence in courtrooms across Europe.
The court found that in immigration proceedings people have a right to know the contents of the documents and the information relied upon by the government. It found that where limitations are necessary to protect national security they must be accompanied by sufficient counterbalancing safeguards in order for the proceedings to be considered fair.