The Coalition’s Secret Courts and Communist Yugoslavia


Leading Yugoslav Communist and Dissident, Milovan Djilas

In March last year (2013) the Coalition passed legislation setting up a system of secret courts. The irate Yorkshireman at Another Angry Voice has blogged several times on this issue, and has given this short description of them:

As it now stands, defendants (or claimants in civil cases) can be excluded from the hearings where their fates are decided; they will not be allowed to know what the case against them is; they will not be allowed to enter the courtroom; they will not be allowed to know or challenge the details of the case; and they will not be allowed representation from their own lawyer, but will instead be represented (in their absence) by a security-cleared “special advocate”.

See his post ‘The Very Illiberal Democrats’ at

The former Yugoslav Communist leader and dissident, Milovan Djilas, describes his experience of being prosecuted through such secret justice in his account of his political career in Yugoslavia in the 1940’s and ’50’s, Rise and Fall. With Edvard Kardelj he was one of the architects of the Yugoslav system of workers’ self-management. This gave employees some control over the management of their businesses through a system of work’s councils, somewhat like the original workers’ soviets in the USSR, before they were taken over and used as an instrument of rigid political control by Lenin. Djilas went further. He attempted to free Yugoslavia from the monolithic control of the country and the economy by the party. He suggested that it should be renamed the ‘Communist League’, and should retreat from political control to give power to the Yugoslavian people and the workers themselves.

Some of these reforms were the result of Tito’s break with Stalin. Tito and the other Yugoslavian Communists were afraid that their country was gradually being transformed by Stalin into a satellite, subject to the control and political and economic demands of the USSR. As a result, they broke with Stalin’s Comintern, and began to seek greater links and a rapprochement with the West. It also led them to re-examine Marxist doctrine. Djilas went further than the others in attacking the Leninist foundations of international Communism. he also adopted a far more critical approach to Marxism itself, seeing it as political tradition, rather than a source of infallible dogma. He states in Rise and Fall that he was hoping to create a united, Socialist Yugoslavia, open to other Socialist parties and movements, in which the Communists would be merely the most active part. For these heresies he was twice prosecuted and imprisoned.

In both of these instances he was tried in a secret court, with judges, who were either prejudiced against him, or under pressure from the authorities to produce a guilty verdict. He was also refused representation by his own lawyer, and had instead one appointed for him by the court. It was therefore a foregone conclusion that he would be found guilt and sent to prison.

Whatever the Coalition may claim to the contrary, this is precisely the type of miscarriage of justice that will occur with these courts in operation. It is a fundamental principle of British justice that not only should justice be done, it should be seen to be done. That’s why, historically, courts have public galleries and the doors were opened to the public when they were in session. These courts violate this most basic principle that has been one of the keystones of the British justice system since the Middle Ages. The result of this will be the false imprisonment of defendants. It is also one step further in the undermining of British democracy itself. It is only a few short steps from these secret courts to the type of dictatorial regime that prosecuted and imprisoned Djilas. This is not just a problem for Communist regimes, but also for supposedly liberal, capitalist countries like Britain. And we cannot be complacent.

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5 Responses to “The Coalition’s Secret Courts and Communist Yugoslavia”

  1. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political.

  2. The Coalition’s Secret Courts and Communist Yugoslavia | Vox Political Says:

    […] [For reasons known only to WordPress, this article was not successfully reblogged. You can find it at […]

  3. The Coalition’s Secret Courts and Communi... Says:

    […] Leading Yugoslav Communist and Dissident, Milovan Djilas In March last year (2013) the Coalition passed legislation setting up a system of secret courts.  […]

  4. rainbowwarriorlizzie Says:


  5. The Swans New Party Says:

    The grab of children in the UK, even from foreign nationals, to be put in care and adopted has had this court system for years.

    The family division of the high court and of the court of protection.

    We have had an Italian national having an enforced caesarian birth in the UK, only because she visited the country, enforced through UK’s Social Services and the baby taken from her by law.

    The daft law that means the state has prior right to custody of a child than own grandparents:

    Christopher Booker in The Daily Telegraph has been reporting on this for years, to no effect on government, till now with some greater transparency on rulings.

    These courts are a: “a regime of secret courts and hidden judgments”, where defendants could not even be “told the evidence against them”, and
    judges accept extraordinary claims by social workers and lawyers without allowing the parents to challenge them. Hearsay evidence is accepted in a way that would never be allowed in a normal court, and parents are condemned on evidence they are not allowed to see.

    And another case where parents could not challenge decision by having no sight of legal papers:

    And this is a campaigner’s blog:

    And these courts bring the UK into disrepute for morally stealing foreign children from foreign parents, who are non-citizens of UK:

    This is the 38 Degrees petition:

    The Swans ( ) would end these courts and these laws and altogether remove child protection from the role of Social Services.

    The extended family would have sole legal custody of their children as citizens. No children in care, no forced adoptions. There would be no legal adoption needed by family members of direct blood children of their extended family.

    If a person laid down a living will, duly noted in law, that in the case of their death, their children would be looked after by a trusted friend, then that would be uphedl in law.

    The Swans would, therefore, end this disrepute of the UK has baby- and – children snatchers from parents, even non-citizens who just visited the UK, with no intention of residence.

    See my blog at:

    The Swans can only come into existence if you make it so. All the current political class threaten total economic collapse and are entrenched centuries into the past of out of date ideas of right and left politics, when the focus should be on people:

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