U.S. Congress To Hold Hearing on Secret Evidence

May 17, 2000 (Iviews.com) - The full House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to conduct a hearing on H.R. 2121, the Secret Evidence Repeal Act Tuesday, May 23, 2000.

The Secret Evidence Repeal Act, would revoke a section of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act allowing the government to withhold evidence against a suspect on the basis that to reveal it would be a threat to national security. The full text of the proposed legislation, along with a list of co-sponsors, is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/

American Muslims and civil libertarians believe secret evidence is unconstitutional and that it is used disproportionately against members of the Muslim and Arab-American communities, stated a news release issued from the Council on American Islamic Relations.

"The main problem right now is we have a situation in which a specific provision by the INS targets Muslims and Arabs almost exclusively and this is clearly wrong. If a specific provision targeted only African-Americans or Latino-Americans, clearly people would say this is wrong," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesperson for CAIR. "Legislators are shocked when they find out about this law...it's the dirty litttle secret of the INS," he added.

The repeal act is sponsored by House minority whip Rep. David Bonior (D-MI) and Rep. Tom Campbell (R-CA). To date, 92 representatives (18 Republicans and 74 Democrats), have agreed to co-sponsor the legislation. The act's sponsors say more than 20 of the 25 individuals held based on secret evidence are Muslims and/or Arabs.

"The right to confront your accuser, hear the evidence against you, and secure a speedy trial are fundamental tenants of the American judicial system. This practice violates our deepest faith and the right to due process, and violates our democracy's most sacred document, the U.S. Constitution," said Rep. Campbell.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on Muslims nationwide to contact their elected representatives to ask that they support this legislation.

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