The MENA Surveillance Coalition calls for an immediate moratorium on the use, acquisition, sale and transfer of surveillance technology to target human rights defenders in the MENA region.
The coalition of 36 rights organizations, including Access Now, and ImpACT International, urged all states to enforce a moratorium until a clear human rights regulatory framework is established.
The joint statement came in light of revelations exposing the staggering scale of surveillance targeted at human rights defenders, including journalists, bloggers and Internet activists facilitated by Israeli NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, based in Israel.
“The MENA region has become a breeding ground for invasive surveillance, allowing for private tech companies to reap profits off egregious human rights violations,” said Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy Manager at Access Now.
“Exporting surveillance tech to autocrats comes with a heavy human rights price tag. It should not take another Khashoggi for states to wake up and put an immediate end to this practice.”
The undersigned human rights organisations also called for revoking all export licenses of surveillance technology and business ties to non-democratic states in the region.
They also stressed the urgent need to initiate an independent investigation into targeted surveillance and ensure that victims have access to remedy and reparation.
The joint statement called for adopting a legal framework that requires transparency about using and acquiring surveillance technologies.
The statement also called for engaging in human rights mechanisms that put controls on the use, development, and export of surveillance technologies, surveilling human rights defenders and initiating a follow-up criminal investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi the surveillance of his family members and associates.