ENNHRI submits third-party intervention to European Court of Human Rights on national intelligence sharing and right to privacy

Source: Flickr/Heather

On Friday 26 April 2019, ENNHRI submitted a third-party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom, now pending before the Grand Chamber.

This is the first time that a case brings the question of whether a regime of international intelligence sharing is compliant with Article 8 (right to privacy and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to the attention of the Grand Chamber.

In its submission, ENNHRI provides examples from member states showcasing that the nature of international intelligence cooperation has changed significantly, which creates new challenges for independent and effective oversight of intelligence sharing.

The submission provides an overview of recommendations from the UN and European human rights bodies and special procedures, as well as good practices by national oversight bodies on how these challenges can be addressed to ensure robust independent and effective oversight of intelligence sharing.

In line with those recommendations of UN and European bodies, ENNHRI’s submission recommends elements to be included in legal mandates of independent oversight bodies. This includes the possibility for independent oversight bodies to oversee all matters of international cooperation by their national intelligence services, and to cooperate with independent oversight bodies from the third states involved in the international intelligence sharing.

Moreover, the submission highlights the need for independent oversight bodies to be able to hire independent specialists, for example, with expertise in modern information and communications technology, and to be adequately resourced and staffed to effectively carry out their functions.

The ENNHRI submission was the fruit of cooperation between National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from ENNHRI’s Legal Working Group, which is currently finalising a Guide for NHRIs on third-party interventions (to be made available before the end of the year).

For more information on NHRIs’ third-party interventions, contact Katrien Meuwissen at ENNHRI’s Secretariat.

» Download ENNHRI’s submission to the European Court of Human Rights
» Learn more about the Legal Working Group