Call on UK to investigate spying on human rights groups by UK secret services

Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD), Rapporteur of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on mass surveillance, joins the call by Amnesty International to David Cameron urging him to launch an independent inquiry into surveillance of human rights organisations by the UK secret services (GCHQ).

“Neither Amnesty International, nor any other serious human rights organisations, can by any stretch of the imagination be considered as a terrorist threat to national security, which is the excuse the NSA and their allies have used to justify mass surveillance of innocent people all over the world."

"Already in 2014 Edward Snowden confirmed during a hearing before our committee that the NSA had spied on human rights organisations. The work of these groups is vital for the functioning of our democracies and their interlocutors, who are often victims of serious human rights violations, are particularly vulnerable,” said Pieter Omtzigt.

In April 2015, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted by a large majority a report by Mr Omtzigt condemning the mass surveillance practices disclosed by Edward Snowden and calling for an “Intelligence Codex” banning, among other things, untargeted mass surveillance and spying among allies.

In June 2015, the Assembly adopted a separate report by Mr Omtzigt on the protection of whistleblowers, calling for the improvement of whistleblower protection and its extension to persons working in the field of national security, such as Edward Snowden, and inviting member states to grant political asylum to unfairly prosecuted whistleblowers.

At a hearing on 8 April 2014 before the Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Edward Snowden confirmed via live video link reports based on the “Snowden files” that the NSA had spied on human rights organisations.