Edward Snowden reacts to UK’s emergency surveillance bill; people under dictatorship also concerned

13 Jul

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

On July 10, Reuters reported that the UK Parliament is planning to push through new laws requiring phone companies to keep records of customer calls and internet activity. It is reported that rights activists warn that the bill sets ‘dangerous precedent.’ On his part, Prime Minister Cameron is saying parliament should be concerned about the consequences of not acting.

Meantime, Edward Snowden has made his views known on this condemning the new UK’s surveillance bill. He expressed concern, according to The Guardian, about the speed with which it is being pushed.

Snowden told The Guardian wondered why a public body should pass an emergency law , where “we don’t have bombs falling. We don’t have U-boats in the harbour.”

Now the danger is this would encourage dictators in developing countries, such as Ethiopia, to use their much-abused anti-terrorism law as carte blanche authorization to violate the rights of citizens, especially coming as it does, after the UN Human Rights Council requested Ethiopia to rewrite its such law.

At the time, in its statement on May 6, 2014 the United States delegation in Geneva recommended to the Ethiopian government:

      1.   Conduct a full review of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, amending the law as necessary to ensure that it strengthens the rule of law and is applied apolitically and in full compliance with Ethiopia’s international human rights obligations;

      2.   Repeal the Charities and Societies Proclamation in order to promote the development of an independent civil society able to operate freely;

      3.   Permit the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association to travel to Ethiopia to advise the government.

It would also be recalled that when Secretary of State John Kerry was on a visit in Ethiopia, he also raised this matter on May 1, 2014 saying:

    “We believe that it is very important that the full measure of the constitution be implemented [in Ethiopia] and that we should not use the anti-terrorism proclamations as mechanisms to be able to curb the free exchange of ideas”.

The US secretary of state would not raise this in Ethiopia, if there is no such serious concern in that country. He knows it and has seen it and that is why he chose to say it in public in the face of the enormous violations of rights in Ethiopia he had to mention it.

We fear not only that the UK example as proposed by Mr. Cameron, would pose lots of trouble for peoples under dictatorship. But also it may not affect the much-needed concerted efforts against terrorism.

On the other hand Britons have parliament, a representative of the people and protector of the nation’s interests; they have courts of law that that operate on the basis of principles and law. None of these exist for Ethiopians and those other peoples that are under dictatorship.

That is why we ask, where does this UK example leave people with no recourse – defenseless citizens in developing countries, such as Ethiopia – given the ample cover Mr. Cameron’s proposals would give dictators?

Read the full article on Snwoden’s reaction to UK proposed bill on The Guardian See also comments

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