Skyline Calls German Parliament to Promptly Enact Legislation Ending BND Surveillance
Madrid - Skyline International calls the German Parliament to promptly enact a legislation that ends the monitiring of German intelligence agencies abroad. The parliament should ensure protection for journalists and foreign media workers.
In its statement issued today, Wednesday, Skyline stresses that the continued given powers to the foreign intelligence service "BND" to monitor foreign journalists may lead to further interference in journalism activities. These powers violate confidentiality established by the relevant legal rules for press information and sources. Skyline stresses that surveillance practices violate a set of basic rules and rights guaranteed by German and international law to journalists.
Several foreign journalists and the NGO "Reporters Without Borders" had mounted a legal challenge to the 2017 amendment of the BND law. The law gives monitoring powers to the BND agency that employs about 6,500 person, thus in effect violates journalists' rights and contradicts the constitution.
Germany's Supreme Constitutional Court ruled on May 19, 2020, that the current practice of monitoring telecommunications of foreign citizens will breach fundamental rights. The court ruling also showed that Germany must preserve press freedoms and the privacy of communications abroad. The ruling also provided instructions to the German Parliament to set up a new legal basis for the intelligence service, including more strict measures to protect secret communications from state surveillance, and reviewing the BND law before the end of 2021.
The international foundation ''Skyline" criticizes the federal government’s draft law regulating the activities of the BND, which is expected to be presented to the German parliament in the coming weeks. The initial review of the draft bill shows that media workers are vulnerable to mass surveillance. Also, the German Federal Intelligence Service may be able to continue gathering data about media workers at scale. Thus, in effect may threaten media workers in repressive countries.
Skyline also expresses concerns over the statements of the Intelligence Services' Commissioner "Johannes Geismann", who said, "the court presented a completely comprehensive criteria list to the amendment of the foreign intelligence law, and this list must be examined quietly." But he stressed, "I am confident that we will also find a reasonable regulation to enable the foreign intelligence agency continue its duties."
Mohamed Imad, Director of Legal Affairs and Policies at Skyline Foundation, said that “Geismann's statements are worryingly in line with the bill expected to be submitted to Parliament. This indicates that federal government insists on giving the foreign intelligence service broad powers to monitor foreign journalists regardless the Supreme Constitutional Court’s decision”.
Imad stressed that "the German parliament is required to observe the legal protection rules established for journalists during its approval of the new surveillance law, and to ensure that the law complies with the set of basic rights guaranteed by both German and international law."
At the end of its statement, Skyline International calls the German government and parliament to ensure full protection for foreign journalists and restrict the activities of the BND. They should seriously end any act threatining or hindring the continued work of foreign journalists in Germany.