Transparency International and Poder Ciudadano, its chapter in Argentina, are deeply concerned at media reports that in 2018 the national intelligence agency was monitoring, gathering information and keeping files on journalists, academics and Civil Society Organisations that apparently registered to participate in World Trade Organisation meetings. This includes intelligence gathered on members of Poder Ciudadano’s own staff.
Reports suggest that personal information was collected beyond that publicly available or on official databases, without the knowledge or consent of the individuals concerned. These activities are illegal under the relevant legislation in the country.
We condemn in the strongest terms any actions that do not respect the fundamental rights of individuals, including the right to privacy, by all governments and international institutions.
Participants in these kinds of meetings should be able to expect their rights to be protected once any necessary and reasonable security check has been done; and should expect fair and legal treatment as well as a full understanding of how their information is gathered, stored and used, including with whom it is shared, and for how long.
Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International, said: “Civil Society Organisations, journalists, and citizens have the fundamental rights to ask questions, request information and provide input to authorities without fear of retribution. These are essential conditions for governments to be held to account and reduce corruption risks.
“At a time when journalists and civil society in many countries are under increased pressure from governments that are taking advantage of emergency powers to stifle critical voices, it is critical to reaffirm calls to respect civil space and to ensure that all governments can be held accountable.”
Reflecting the seriousness of the violations of peoples’ rights, including those of its own staff, Poder Ciudadano is preparing to take appropriate legal action.
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