Secrecy’s Corrupting Influence on Democratic Principles and the Rule of Law
Sometimes secrecy in law is required to protect vulnerable witnesses or suppress sensitive evidence. However, particularly since the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, governments in liberal democratic societies have increased secrecy and the use of clandestine procedures under the pretext of safeguarding national security. In many instances, these developments have eroded civil liberties, infringed upon constitutional guarantees, and had negative effects on due process rights. In Australia, where individual rights and freedoms have only limited constitutional expression, it is hoped the doctrine of representative and responsible government will act as sufficient protection for human rights. Conversely, drawing on examples ranging from the regulation of immigration to the control of serious organised crime, this article proposes that escalating secrecy in the current era has a corrupting effect on democratic principles and the rule of law.
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