This written evidence addresses questions posed by the Joint Committee on Human Rights with respect to the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill.
The Bill amends the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, creating a statutory process for public bodies to authorise covert human intelligence sources to engage in criminal activities – including rape, murder and torture – with impunity. As a consequence, victims could be denied access to recourse in the courts, as well as to compensation. Moreover, the Bill’s safeguards are woefully inadequate. As Lord Macdonald observed, “[u]nder this bill it will be easier for a police officer to commit a serious crime than to tap a phone or search a shed”.
It is inconceivable that the Government should not be accountable for serious criminal offences committed with its approval. By contrast, equivalent legislation in Canada only affords CHIS a defence to prosecution, rather than blanket immunity. By adopting the Bill in its current form, Parliament would approve serious violations of the ECHR, and set itself apart from accepted international human rights standards.
JUSTICE therefore submits that the Bill is neither necessary nor proportionate, and would incur severe human rights implications.