Assessment of the evidence in
43. We have ourselves received little information
about the way in which the Home Secretary has assessed the specific
evidence in individual cases, although the Home Secretary's memorandum
to us provides some general indication of the nature of the evidence
which he has been considering.
In this respect, Lord Carlile's ATCS Act Report is very helpful.
He explains that he has examined the material (including 'closed'
material subject to security restrictions) put before the Home
Secretary in the case of each detainee, and concludes, 'In every
case I was entirely satisfied that the criteria [for detention
under section 23(1) of the Act] were met, and would have been
very surprised if certification had not taken place.'
Although it was not always possible to be precise as to the detainee's
exact group affiliation, Lord Carlile concluded that it was necessary
to concentrate on the threat to public safety in the United Kingdom
and abroad. That threat was established, and flexibility was needed,
because international terrorists often work in small cells, may
not be easy to categorise as members of known groups, and operate
in a context in which new groups can appear suddenly. That being
so, Lord Carlile considered that the provisions operated satisfactorily
and fairly having regard to the context.
44. We have to operate without the sensitive intelligence
information which was made available to Lord Carlile about the
grounds on which the Home Secretary is using the power to certify
people as suspected international terrorists. This makes it impossible
for us to express an independent view about the compatibility
of the provisions, in practice, with human rights. Nevertheless,
we can take account of the material made available to Lord Carlile,
the information he has provided (both in his ATCS Act Report and
in his letter to our Chair) about the way in which he approaches
his task, his previous experience of dealing with such evidence
in his different role as reviewer of the operation of the Terrorism
Act 2000, and the fact that he has a continuing role in regularly
reviewing the operation of sections 21 to 23 of the ATCS Act.
45. In our view, it is particularly significant that
Lord Carlile has seen all the evidence relating to individual
cases and has declared himself to be entirely satisfied that the
statutory criteria for detention were met in each case. In
the light of this factor, we consider that each House can legitimately
- that the powers under section 21 of the ATCS
Act are being used satisfactorily and fairly, and
- that the rigour of the review procedure under
section 28 of the Act is providing adequate assurance that the
powers to certify and detain people under sections 21 to 23 of
the Act are being used in a manner compatible with Convention