UK Lord Chancellor blasts US for denying Guantanamo detainees access to courts

[JURIST] UK Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer [official profile; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday blasted the US for denying Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees adequate access to the judicial system. In a speech [text] delivered in Sydney, Australia, on "The Role of Judges in a Modern Democracy," Falconer, who also serves as Britain's Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, said:

It is a part of the acceptance of the rule of law that the courts will be able to exercise jurisdiction over the executive. Otherwise the conduct of the executive is not defined and restrained by law. It is because of that principle, that the USA, deliberately seeking to put the detainees beyond the reach of the law in Guantanamo Bay, is so shocking an affront to the principles of democracy. That we disagree on this issue does not detract from the fact that the USA is a close and staunch ally of the UK. Without independent judicial control, we cannot give effect to the essential values of our society. To give effect to our democratic values needs the participation of executive, legislature, and judiciary together. How well they do it, as in every endeavour, depends on the quality of the individual decisions each branch of the state takes. The ability to give effect to these values is not just the morally correct position to take, though I believe it is most certainly that. It is also a vital part of providing security for our peoples.
Prior to the passage of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Falconer was head of the judiciary of England and Wales, leadership of which now vests in the Lord Chief Justice [JURIST report]. Before delivering the lecture, Falconer told BBC radio that UK Prime Minister Tony Blair [official profile] authorized the comments.

In March, Blair said that he hoped the US would close Guantanamo [JURIST report], but added that the US had justifiably opened it in response to the September 11 attacks. AP has more. AAP has local coverage.

 

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