Human Rights chief urges respect for right to privacy and protection of individuals revealing human rights violations

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Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"While concerns about national security and criminal activity may justify the exceptional and narrowly-tailored use of surveillance programmes, surveillance without adequate safeguards to protect the right to privacy actually risk impacting negatively on the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement on Friday.

She said the situation of Edward Snowden and alleged large-scale violations of the right of privacy by surveillance programmes raise a number of important international human rights issues which need to be addressed.

Pillay said "Snowden's case has shown the need to protect persons disclosing information on matters that have implications for human rights, as well as the importance of ensuring respect for the right to privacy."

According to the human rights chief, both Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights state that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with one's privacy, family, home or correspondence, and that everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

Pillay said "People need to be confident that their private communications are not being unduly scrutinised by the State. The right to privacy, the right to access to information and freedom of expression are closely linked.  The public has the democratic right to take part in the public affairs and this right cannot be effectively exercised by solely relying on authorized information."

"National legal systems must ensure that there are adequate avenues for individuals disclosing violations of human rights to express their concern without fear of reprisals," she added.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’31″

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