To the Right Hon Philip Hammond MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Government of the United Kingdom
Re: Surveillance of human rights organisations
Dear Foreign Secretary
We write to you to express our deep concern at the ruling by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal on June 22, 2015, which reveals that the GCHQ carried out surveillance on two important and respected independent international human rights groups illegally.
These two organisations, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the Legal Resource Centre in South Africa are well known and widely respected in the international human rights movement.
Though the Tribunal found technical violations in the surveillance process our concern lies with the act of the surveillance itself. If the role of surveillance is to protect the public from serious crime and threats to their security, what possible explanation can there be for surveillance of human rights groups – a practice if carried out by other states would attract the criticism of the UK government. Indeed in the FCO Human Rights and Democracy Annual Report of 2014 you, as Foreign Secretary, were quoted as saying “We call on governments around the world to do more to foster the role of civil society in promoting and defending human rights” – a role which the report warns is under threat by governments around the world squeezing the global “civil society space”. Can we suggest that spying on civil society groups seems at odds with fostering the government’s role “in protecting and promoting human rights” as is later stated in the annual report, and further undermines the security of this space?
Two immediate questions arise from this judgment.
Can you explain the rationale for placing human rights organisations under surveillance?
And importantly, at whose request was this surveillance authorised – which government department or foreign government requested that the surveillance take place and to what effect?
We would appreciate an early answer to these questions.
Endorsements of open letter to UK Foreign Secretary on GCHQ surveillance of human rights groups
This statement is now closed to new endorsements.
End date: Jun 30, 2015
Signatures collected: 36
|30||Electronic Frontier Foundation||United States||Jul 01, 2015|
|29||Bolo Bhi||Pakistan||Jun 30, 2015|
|28||Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice(CCEJ)||South Korea||Jun 28, 2015|
|27||Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication(BNNRC)||Bangladesh||Jun 27, 2015|
|26||Amnesty International||Worldwide||Jun 26, 2015|
|25||Open Rights Group||UK||Jun 26, 2015|
|24||Privacy International||worldwide||Jun 26, 2015|
|23||GreenNet||United Kingdom||Jun 26, 2015|
|22||Internet Rights and Principles Coalition||International||Jun 26, 2015|
|21||ICT Watch - Indonesia||Indonesia||Jun 26, 2015|
|20||Association for Progressive Communications||International||Jun 25, 2015|
|19||Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet)||Kenya||Jun 25, 2015|
|18||OpenMedia||Canada||Jun 25, 2015|
|17||Dataskydd.NET Sverige||Sweden||Jun 25, 2015|
|16||Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya)||Kenya||Jun 25, 2015|
|15||Access||Jun 25, 2015|
|14||Derechos Digitales||Chile||Jun 25, 2015|
|13||Liberty||UK||Jun 25, 2015|
|12||Asociación por los Derechos Civiles - ADC||Argentina||Jun 25, 2015|
|11||Digital Defenders Partners||Ukraine||Jun 25, 2015|
|10||Global Geneva||Switzerland||Jun 25, 2015|
|9||ARTICLE 19||Worldwide||Jun 25, 2015|
|8||Australian Privacy Foundation||Australia||Jun 25, 2015|
|7||World Wide Web Foundation||Worldwide||Jun 25, 2015|
|6||Instituto Bem Estar Brasil||Brazil||Jun 25, 2015|
|5||Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan||Pakistan||Jun 25, 2015|
|4||ACI-Participa||Honduras||Jun 25, 2015|
|3||Public Knowledge||U.S.||Jun 24, 2015|
|2||Privacy and Access Council of Canada||Jun 24, 2015|
|1||Global Partners Digital||UK||Jun 24, 2015|
|6||Tapani Tarvainen||Finland||Jun 26, 2015|
|5||Wolf Ludwig||Switzerland||Jun 25, 2015|
|4||Robert Bodle||USA||Jun 25, 2015|
|3||Walid Al-Saqaf||Sweden||Jun 25, 2015|
|2||Marianne Franklin||Jun 25, 2015|
|1||Jennifer Schulte||Jun 25, 2015|