HRW raises concerns about draft cybercrime treaty over possible human rights violations – JURIST

Human Rights Watch (HRW) raised concerns Tuesday about the draft Cybercrime Treaty of the United Nations over possible human rights violations. A UN Committee released the latest draft of the Treaty on September 1, 2023.

HRW, along with over 100 groups globally, expressed concern about the draft global cybercrime treaty being negotiated at the UN in a joint statement. They argue that the proposed Cybercrime Convention, set for the concluding session from January 29 to February 9, 2024, poses a significant risk to human rights. The joint statement calls for a narrow focus on tackling cybercrime with robust human rights safeguards. They criticize the current draft for containing broad criminal provisions, weak human rights safeguards and excessive cross-border information sharing, potentially facilitating intrusive surveillance. The groups warn that a failure to address these issues could lead to the rejection of the convention.

The joint statement adds:

As the UN Ad Hoc Committee convenes its concluding session, we call on state delegations to redouble their efforts to address these critical gaps in the current draft. The final outcome of the treaty negotiation process should only be deemed acceptable if it effectively incorporates strong and meaningful safeguards to protect human rights, ensures legal clarity for fairness and due process, and fosters international cooperation under the rule of law. The proposed Convention must not serve as a validation of intrusion and surveillance practices harmful to human rights.

The UN Ad Hoc Committee to Elaborate a Comprehensive International Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purpose met between August 21 and September 1, 2023, in New York for its sixth session. A draft of the convention was shared after the conclusion of the session, which incorporated amendments from the members.

The draft convention preamble acknowledges concerns about information technologies fostering criminal activities. It advocates a global approach to combat cybercrime, stressing worldwide prosecution, state coordination, victim support and commitment to human rights, privacy and international cooperation.

Earlier in December, HRW criticized Tunisia’s cybercrime decree, Decree-Law No. 2022-54, designed to combat offenses related to information systems. HRW claimed the decree is being misused and raised concerns about privacy rights.

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