Amnesty International calls on David Cameron to launch surveillance inquiry

Anmesty’s letter warns surveillance will have ‘chilling effect’ on human rights organizations.

The UK should hold an independent judge-led inquiry into surveillance of human rights organizations by UK security services, Amnesty International said today in a letter sent to Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which oversees surveillance matters in the UK, informed Amnesty International last week that the UK has been intercepting, accessing and storing its communications, but is yet to provide an explanation as to why.

“The Prime Minister needs to explain why the UK government is subjecting law-abiding human rights organizations to surveillance. This revelation makes it vividly clear that mass surveillance has gone too far. We must finally have proper checks and balances,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General.

“It’s absolutely shocking that Amnesty International’s private correspondence was deemed fair game to UK spooks, who have clearly lost all sense of what is proportionate or appropriate.  A key measure of a free society is how it treats its charities and NGOs. If Amnesty International is being spied on, then is anyone safe?” said Kate Allen, Amnesty UK’s Director.

The human rights group is also calling on David Cameron to publish as much as possible of the findings of a report from the tribunal due to be sent to him relating to the revelation.

The letter, signed by Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty and Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen, warns that confirmation that the UK has been spying on the communications of non-governmental organizations “sends a chilling message to human rights organizations and charities in the UK and abroad”.

The letter follows serious concerns raised by peers from across the political spectrum over the revelation, in a debate on surveillance in the House of Lords yesterday.

Read Amnesty International’s letter to David Cameron.

Find out more about Amnesty International’s work on mass surveillance.