Activist countries

At the HRC: Euro-Med Monitor calls on European countries to respect the privacy of asylum seekers

Geneva – Unlawful, disproportionate and unnecessary interference with the personal data of individuals in Europe, especially asylum seekers who are treated as liars until proven guilty, has escalated, said Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and GIWEH in a joint address to the Human Rights Council. 49th meeting.

Delivered by Michela Pugliese, Euro-Med Monitor’s migration and asylum researcher, the statement said authorities in Denmark, Germany, Norway and Switzerland are extensively tracing the phones of asylum seekers as part of their asylum procedures. asylum, which means examining all their personal data, such as in the form of contact information, geodata, messages and photos.

The statement adds that these countries have routinely violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of asylum seekers by verifying their personal data and subjecting them to second-class data protection, often undoubtedly false allegations in their asylum or migrant or asylum applications. applicants’ approval.

Sometimes migrants and asylum seekers are treated as guinea pigs to test new invasive control and surveillance techniques, which can also be used to spy on the citizens of those countries, the statement said. Hungary and Poland have already used Israeli company NSO’s Pegasus spyware to monitor hundreds of journalists, activists and students who criticize their government.

The statement highlights that illegal surveillance techniques from European countries pose significant risks to the dignity, independence, privacy, freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of association of individuals.

In the statement, Euro-Med Monitor called on the European Union and its Member States to end all privacy-intrusive measures for both citizens and non-citizens; and to allow asylum seekers to decide for themselves what intimate information can be disclosed and used in their asylum procedure.

The text of the statement:

Mister President,

Disproportionate, unnecessary and illegitimate intrusions into individuals’ personal data are increasingly occurring across Europe, especially for asylum seekers, who are treated as liars until proven otherwise.

Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Norway have made extensive use of mobile phone searches in their asylum procedures, examining applicants’ entire lives: from contact details and phone numbers to geodata, messages and photos.

These countries have routinely violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of asylum seekers, inspecting their personal data and subjecting them to second-class data protection, often without any suspicion of misrepresentation, and without their informed consent.

Migrants are treated as guinea pigs to test new invasive control and surveillance technologies which will then be used, and sometimes already are, to spy on citizens as well.

Hungary and Poland have already used Israeli company NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to monitor hundreds of journalists, activists and students critical of their government.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and GIWEH recall that these illegal surveillance techniques carry significant risks for human dignity, autonomy and privacy, as well as for freedom of association, movement and expression.

We therefore call on the EU and its Member States to put an end to all measures infringing the privacy of both citizens and non-citizens; and to allow asylum seekers to decide for themselves what intimate information can be disclosed and used in their asylum procedure.

Thank you.

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