Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has spoken during the final debate on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill, voicing concern about continued risks relating to human rights abuses by government agents. Mr Carmichael highlighted that while the Bill had been improved since it was first introduced, there were still too few protections against misuse of powers. The Bill now awaits Royal Assent.
Speaking virtually in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“I welcome the amendments that have come that the Government are accepting. It has be said, however, that the Bill as a whole remains inadequate in the protections that it puts in place.
“The Government have sought to claim that acts of torture by covert agents could be justified “where the intention is to disrupt and prevent that conduct, or more serious conduct…or where the conduct would take place in any event.”
“That is not consistent with the Human Rights Act. It is clearly wrong and has been described as such by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. The Committee found that covert agents could not be authorised to get involved in abuses such as torture and that “the intention behind that conduct cannot justify the violation.”
“The Bill is effectively about the Government outsourcing decisions that they could not take for themselves. That approach should provide us with concern because we know that these provisions will not then stand the test of time. The Houses have made significant improvements to it, but it remains some distance from what the country needs and what those who do this very dangerous work on our behalf deserve to have.”