JUSTICE submits a briefing and suggested amendments to the Lords on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill for Committee Stage

This briefing addresses JUSTICE’s concerns; namely, that the Bill would allow public bodies to authorise undercover operatives (“CHIS”) to engage in criminal activities – including rape, murder and torture – with impunity.

JUSTICE would welcome placing existing Security Services’ Guidelines on a statutory footing. We believe that it is important that such measures are transparent, and that they receive appropriate parliamentary scrutiny. However, we are seriously concerned that the proposed powers granting immunity, coupled with weak safeguards, would completely undermine the core principle of criminal law; that it should apply equally to all, both citizen and state. By passing this Bill, Parliament would approve serious violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, and set itself apart from international human rights norms.

In order to bring the Bill in line with the abovementioned Guidelines, as well as the UK’s international and domestic human rights obligations and best practice, we have further set out our suggested amendments, in accordance with the following recommendations:

  1. Delete Provisions Granting Immunity;
  2. Increase Safeguards;
  3. Appropriate Parliamentary Oversight;
  4. Appropriate Time Frames for CCAs;
  5. Restrict the Number of Authorising Authorities;
  6. Prohibit the Use of CHIS as Agents Provocateurs, and Focus on Serious Criminal Conduct;
  7. Prohibit CCAs for Children and Vulnerable Individuals;
  8. Mandate Prior Judicial Authorisation for CCA Applications by Judicial Commissioners; and
  9. Strengthen the Role of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner.

Read our briefing here.

Read our joint briefing with Just For Kids Law on the use of children and vulnerable individuals here