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Al-Haq Submission to UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression on the Surveillance Industry and Human Rights

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Al-Haq Submission to UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression on the Surveillance Industry and Human RightsOn 13 February 2019, Al-Haq sent a submission to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, in response to a call for submissions on the surveillance industry and human rights, concerned with studying the obligations and responsibilities of States and businesses to ensure compliance with human rights standards. Al-Haq’s submission, entitled “The Surveillance Industry: Israel’s Marketing of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)”, focuses on the numerous rights of Palestinians violated by Israel’s countless policies and practices that seek to harass, monitor, and control them. These practices range from installing checkpoints throughout the OPT, to the Annexation Wall and other barriers on movement that often include surveillance technologies, and to holding Palestinians on charges related to freedom of speech and opinion.

Al-Haq's submission seeks to highlight Israel's prolonged occupation and its use of the OPT to showcase the weapons and surveillance technologies used by its various units at the military and intelligence. Israel's "expertise" in employing and trying out various weapons in the OPT has been used as a selling point across the world. For example, weapons used by Israel against the occupied population of Gaza have been advertised and marketed resulting in increased sales to customers abroad.

The submission also sheds light on the details of the Israeli company Elbit and the Mabat 2000 surveillance project in the Old City of Jerusalem. The project includes hundreds of cameras placed throughout the Old City in order to closely monitor the movement of Palestinians. This monitoring has completely erased the sense of privacy by following their every movement and creating algorithms to predict behaviours and actions. This system has been marketed, at the cost of Palestinians, to countries around the world as a way to help ensure border security.

In the submission, Al-Haq further urged the Special Rapporteur to examine Israel's use of military and surveillance industry in connection to targeting human rights defenders, journalists, and others who speak on the rights of Palestinian people.

As part of its recommendations, Al-Haq called on the Special Rapporteur to:

  • Pay particular attention to Israeli manufacturers of surveillance equipment, their connections to Israeli authorities, and their ties to human rights abuses in the OPT and globally.
  • Highlight the obligations of UN Member States and High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to ensure the protection of the occupied Palestinian population.
  • Support the call for the publication of the UN Database on Business Enterprises with Activities in and Relationships with Israeli Settlements in the OPT.
  • Call on businesses to ensure their respect for human rights, and conduct enhanced due diligence before operating in conflict-affected areas.
  • Call for all states to stop importing weapons and surveillance equipment from Israel.

To read full submission, click here.

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