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Northern Ireland: Call for investigation into police spying on journalists

Amnesty has written to Policing Board to investigate PSNI use of secret surveillance powers against journalists

'The pattern of treating journalists as criminal suspects must end' - Patrick Corrigan

Responding to news that the phone records of a Belfast-based journalist were secretly searched by the PSNI during an investigation into allegations that a senior member of the force received payments from a private company, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“The police have serious questions to answer about the secret surveillance of journalists in Northern Ireland. Snooping on a journalist’s phone is potentially a serious breach of human rights.

“But let’s not fool ourselves – this news comes as little surprise. The PSNI has a terrible track record when it comes to freedom of the press. Time and again the courts have found that police have overstepped the mark in breaching the human rights of journalists – and this appears to be another such case.

“The key question is: how many other cases are there of targeted surveillance of journalists or other human rights defenders by the PSNI? The Policing Board has a statutory duty to ensure PSNI compliance with the Human Rights Act. 

“Amnesty International and the Committee on the Administration of Justice have jointly written to the Policing Board today to ask them to conduct a thorough investigation of the PSNI’s use of secret surveillance against journalists and other human rights defenders in Northern Ireland. The pattern of treating journalists as criminal suspects must end.”

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