“The EU cannot stand idly by while lawyers, politicians, academics and journalists are being spied upon by European governments that comprise it” says the MEP
The European Parliament approved this week the 2021 Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World, which includes an amendment by Esquerra Republicana MEP Jordi Solé regarding the Pegasus spyware and the threat it poses to human rights defenders, politicians and journalists, coercing their activities. The amendment specifically urges the European Union to lead a global moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of espionage technology.
The use of the Pegasus espionage program by EU governments to monitor journalists, political opponents and others is a scandal that has shaken the entire European Union to the core. Cases include that of Catalonia, where several pro-independence leaders, such as former Parliament Speaker Roger Torrent, have been victims of espionage using this spyware.
“The EU cannot stand idly by while lawyers, politicians, academics and journalists are being spied upon by the very European governments themselves. Privacy must be protected and the confidentiality of communications must be ensured,” said Esquerra’s MEP. “In the universal struggle to defend human rights, the EU and its member states must lead by example, otherwise we risk losing all credibility globally,” he added.
Putting an end to the threat
The amendment introduced by Mr Solé, the Greens/EFA Group shadow speaker for the report, specifically underlines “the specific threat that new digital technologies pose to human rights defenders, opposition figures, journalists and others by controlling, restricting and undermining their activities,” as the Pegasus revelations recently illustrated. The amendment calls on the EU “to take the initiative to promote an immediate and comprehensive moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of spyware technology and the adoption of a sound regulatory framework in this field”; it calls on the Member States “to ensure due diligence on human rights and adequate control of exports of European surveillance and technical assistance technology”; as well as “collaborating with third-country governments to end repressive cybersecurity and anti-terrorism practices and legislation.”
The report also suggests further action and greater coherence on the part of a European Union, which should do more in such matters as regards trade, migration and support for human rights defenders, and refers to a wide range of Human Rights related issues, ranging from freedom of expression and belief, to sexual and reproductive rights, environmental rights, and others.