“Privacy is a right, it must be respected”: UN General Assembly President-elect

Privacy is a right and should be respected, said UNGA President-elect Abdullah Shahid. (file)

New Delhi:

UN General Assembly President-elect Abdullah Shahid on Thursday referred to concerns arising from the Pegasus espionage controversy, saying privacy is a right protected by the constitutions of all civilized countries and should be respected.

Mr. Shahid, Foreign Minister of Maldives, is on a three-day visit to India in his official capacity as the elected President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

In an interview to PTI, he also said that the digital system governing digital communications is an area that needs to be seriously considered.

“Privacy is a right protected by the constitutions of all civilized countries and should be respected,” he said.

Asked whether there is a need to augment the existing framework to address privacy issues, he replied in the affirmative.

“The digital privacy regime that governs digital communications is an area that needs serious consideration (by the global community),” he said.

Asked whether the issue can be discussed in the UN General Assembly, he said it is for the member states to decide.

The alleged use of Pegasus software to spy on journalists, human rights defenders, politicians and others in several countries, including India, has raised concerns over privacy-related issues.

Politicians, rights activists and journalists were among those targeted by phone spyware sold by an Israeli firm to various governments, according to an international media association.

Asked about concerns over human rights violations in different parts of the world, Mr Shahid said, “Respect for the rights of all is one of the five ‘rays of hope’ that I am bringing.”

He said, “Because I believe that human rights are very important to gain the confidence of countries and peoples in multilateralism. The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and the General Assembly in New York have a complementary role.”

India is the first country where Mr Shahid is visiting his capacity as elected President of the United Nations General Assembly after being elected to office on 7 June.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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