Scottish Greens vow not to back undercover agents Bill

Some groups have described the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill as a 'licence to kill'.

Scottish Greens vow not to back undercover agents Bill Getty Images

The Scottish Greens have said they will not support a Bill aimed at protecting undercover law enforcement agents.

The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill (CHIS) is currently making its way through Westminster and would offer greater protections to police or security officers who commit crimes in the line of duty.

However, some groups have described it as a “licence to kill”.

Given that the Bill legislates in devolved areas, the Scottish Parliament must vote on a legislative consent motion (LCM), although the outcome has no effect on its passage at the UK Parliament.

Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, in a letter to the Justice Committee last week, said he could not recommend MSPs vote to back the motion.

Now, he has been joined by the Scottish Greens, all but ensuring the LCM will not pass Holyrood.

The party’s justice spokesman John Finnie described the proposed legislation as “appalling”, adding that it “would grant the perpetrators of crimes immunity from prosecution if their actions were authorised”.

He added: “It essentially hands intelligence agents, police officers and public officials a licence to commit crimes, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t face any consequences for their actions.

“Undercover operations should be governed by a robust ethical framework with respect for human rights at its core. This Bill cuts across all the norms of justice and the rule of law and should be rejected in its entirety.”

Yousaf also called for amendments to be made to the Bill to tighten oversight, meaning a judicial commissioner would need to approve any criminal acts before the fact.

The LCM will be put before MSPs in a short debate on Wednesday.

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