Counter-terrorism laws must not be misused to silence journalists or target human rights defenders

20.08.2013

(Geneva, 21 August 2013) – The prolonged detention of David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, under the United Kingdom’s Terrorism Act of 2000 amounts to an attack on human rights defenders and is contrary to international law, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

 

(Geneva, 21 August 2013) – The prolonged detention of David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, under the United Kingdom’s Terrorism Act of 2000 amounts to an attack on human rights defenders and is contrary to international law, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

Mr Miranda was detained for nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport on 18 August 2013 under a law purportedly aimed at preventing terrorism. According to media reports, he was questioned about Greenwald’s investigative work and writing on mass surveillance by the US and the UK. His electronic equipment, including computer, phone and memory sticks, were confiscated and have not been returned. In a statement Human Rights Watch said that the detention, questioning and confiscation appeared to be ‘aimed at punishing or intimidating journalists’.

‘Journalists such as Glenn Greenwald who work to expose human rights abuses are human rights defenders and are entitled to the protection of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,’ said ISHR Director Phil Lynch.

Article 6 of the Declaration explicitly recognises and protects the right of all human rights defenders ‘to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms’ and ‘freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms’.

Mr Lynch noted that as recently as March 2013, both the UK and US strongly supported a UN Human Rights Council resolution in Geneva which condemns acts of intimidation or reprisals against human rights defenders or their associates. The same resolution, Resolution 22/6, expresses ‘grave concern’ as to the misuse of ‘national security and counter-terrorism legislation and other measures…to target human rights defenders or hinder their work…in a manner contrary to international law’.

‘The disjunct between what many States say in Geneva and do on the ground is a matter of great concern,’ Mr Lynch said.

‘States like the US and UK, which purport to be leaders in the field of human rights, must act immediately to ensure that their laws cannot be used or abused to interfere with the important and legitimate work of journalists and human rights defenders’.

Contact: Phil Lynch, Director, on p.lynch@ishr.ch or + 41 76 708 47 38.

Photo: ©Janine Gibson

Category:

Topic
  • Reprisals and intimidation
Mechanism
  • UN Human Rights Council
Country
  • United Kingdom
  • United States