Human Rights Watch files complaint against UK over unlawful surveillance

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has lodged a complaint against the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) for intercepting, using, and retaining its communications.

HRW and three individuals filed the complaint with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). It alleges that the organisation’s rights were violated through unlawful surveillance, and in particular, sharing of the data with the US National Security Administration (NSA).

The case follows a finding by the tribunal that Britain had unlawfully retained communications of Amnesty International.

Human Rights Watch general counsel Dinah PoKempner said: “If GCHQ has been collecting Amnesty International’s communications, it is nearly certain that ours have been intercepted as well.

“Mass-scale surveillance and data swapping without suspicion or independent oversight pose a grave threat to the lives, safety, and work of human rights defenders, researchers, journalists, lawyers, and their sources.

“We are bringing this case because confidentiality of communications is critical for those who work to protect human rights and expose abuses and war crimes.”

In February this year, the IPT ruled that GCHQ had accessed data from the NSA prior to December 2014, which violates the right to privacy and free expression, but withheld the names of those whose communications were part of those unlawfully shared.

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Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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