Politics 26/05/2022

Amnesty International's 10 steps to put an end to Pegasus

The organisation calls for an independent investigation, a moratorium on the use of spyware and urgent legal reforms

2 min
The spying of the Pegasus program is done through cell phones.

BarcelonaAmnesty International (AI) is one of the most active organisations in the fight against espionage through programmes such as Pegasus, which, it believes, violates human rights. In fact, the software used internationally to detect whether a cell phone is infected with this virus developed by Israeli company NSO came precisely from AI's research center. Now it has criticised the Spanish government as a result of Catalangate. In addition, after Spanish president Pedro Sánchez's appearance this Thursday in Parliament, AI published a ten-point plan to deal with the scandal.

  1. Launching "an exhaustive, independent and effective investigation" into the case and setting up a new inquiry which could be at the disposal of the European Parliament's inquiry. In AI's opinion, the Ombudsman's report and the internal investigation by the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) are not enough.
  2. Promoting an "unequivocal commitment" from the Spanish government and the Prosecutor's Office to collaborate with court investigations. At least on paper, this is what Sánchez has committed to, although AI says there should also be diplomatic work to get Israel and NSO to collaborate.
  3. Passing a law that establishes "accountability mechanisms" for human rights violations committed through digital surveillance, offering victims security.
  4. Reforming the CNI law to increase court control and independent oversight of the information it has stored. It also calls for the modification of the law on official secrets –approved at the end of Franco's regime– "to prevent abuses and violations of human rights from being covered up and going unpunished".
  5. Provide victims with "effective instruments for the defence of their rights and reparation following the doctrine of the European Court of Human Rights".
  6. Suspend at state level "the use, sale and transfer of these surveillance tools until an adequate regulatory framework which is respectful of human rights is in place".
  7. Internationally, "the Spanish authorities must encourage and support the imposition of a moratorium" on the use of Pegasus and other similar systems until adequate regulation is in place.
  8. Spanish authorities "must disclose information on all contracts – past, present and future – that they have with private surveillance companies.
  9. "Restrict public technology and surveillance contracts to companies that adhere to UN guiding principles and have not provided services to abusive clients."
  10. Actively participate, for example by supporting the UN special rapporteur, in the establishment of the moratorium on the sale and use of Pegasus and the development of the necessary monitoring tools to identify impermissible targets for digital surveillance.

"Intelligence services also have to respect human rights standards," says Esteban Beltrán, director of Amnesty International Spain, who warns that the regulation on secret services is not enough to avoid "abuses, irregularities and lack of control". We run the risk of them acting with total impunity," he concludes.

To bring the crisis to an end, the Spanish government has committed itself to collaborate with the justice system, has carried out an internal investigation by the CNI and another by the Ombudsman (neither of which have revealed any irregularities), and has committed itself to modify the CNI and official secrets laws. These decisions are considered insufficient by Amnesty International and those affected by Catalangate.

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