A group of UN experts has repeated its call on all states to impose a global moratorium on the sale and transfer of surveillance technology until they have put in place robust regulations which guarantee it complies with international human rights standards.

“We are deeply concerned that highly sophisticated intrusive tools are being used to monitor, intimidate and silence human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents,” the human rights experts said.

“Such practices violate the rights to freedom of expression, privacy and liberty, possibly endanger the lives of hundreds of individuals, imperil media freedom, and undermine democracy, peace, security and international cooperation.”

The experts also said: “It is highly dangerous and irresponsible to allow the surveillance technology and trade sector to operate as a human rights-free zone.”

The group consists of special rapporteurs and independent experts and is part of the UN’s Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council which conducts fact finding and monitoring work.

The latest call comes a month after surveillance of the mobile devices of hundreds of journalists, human rights defenders and political leaders with Pegasus spyware from the NSO Group of Israel was revealed. The company rejected allegations concerning its involvement in the unlawful practices.

The expert group added: “In recent years we have repeatedly raised the alarm about the danger that surveillance technology poses to human rights. Once again, we urge the international community to develop a robust regulatory framework to prevent, mitigate and redress the negative human rights impact of surveillance technology and pending that, to adopt a moratorium on its sale and transfer.”


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