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UN experts concerned over alleged use of Israeli spyware to surveil human rights defenders

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News briefing

Translated and edited by: The Committee for Justice

Geneva: August 28, 2023

UN experts have expressed concerns about the use of surveillance technology marketed as Pegasus spyware by the NSO Group, a company domiciled in the State of Israel, to surveil human rights defenders in Mexico.


Not the first instance:

According to a memorandum sent to the Israeli authorities on June 21, 2023, which has not been responded to yet, the only Mexican institution with a current contract for using spyware programs allegedly utilized to target the mobile devices of human rights defenders is the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA).

UN experts have expressed their deep concerns over the alleged deployment of spyware programs developed by the NSO Group, an Israeli-based company, to monitor Mexican human rights defenders, as a clear retaliation for their work in the field of human rights. If this

surveillance is confirmed, it would constitute a violation of their rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression, in addition to an assault on their human rights work. This heightened concern is exacerbated by the fact that this wouldn’t be the first instance in which human rights defenders are subjected to surveillance using spyware programs developed by the NSO Group.


UN demands from Israeli authorities:

The experts have called on Israeli authorities to provide information about the measures taken to prevent human rights violations by companies and to protect against them, especially through products and services offered by the NSO Group, in line with United Nations guidelines.

They also urged Israel to provide information about steps taken to prevent and protect individuals and groups subjected to its jurisdiction against human rights abuses by business enterprises, and in particular by the products and services of the NSO Group, in line with the UN Guiding Principles.

They also requested details about how the expectations of human rights respect were conveyed and monitored to all companies headquartered within the territory of Israel or under its jurisdiction in all their activities.

The experts also requested detailed information from Israeli authorities about laws that aim to or affect compelling business entities to respect human rights, particularly protecting fundamental freedoms, and how they were used concerning the NSO Group, in line with United Nations guidelines. Additionally, the experts asked Israel to provide information about measures taken to ensure effective remedies for those harmed by NSO Group’s activities, in accordance with UN principles.

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