Pegasus row: Privacy a right that has to be respected, says UNGA President-elect

In an interview to news agency PTI, he said the privacy regime that governs digital communications needs to be seriously looked into.

The visiting UN General Assembly President-elect Abdulla Shahid Thursday weighed in on the Pegasus snooping row, saying privacy is a right protected by constitutions of all civilised countries and has to be respected.

Shahid, who is Foreign minister of Maldives, is on a three-day visit to India in his capacity as the President-elect of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

In an interview to news agency PTI, he said the privacy regime that governs digital communications needs to be seriously looked into.

“Privacy is a right protected by constitutions of all civilised countries and it has to be respected,” he said.

Asked whether there was a need to enhance the existing framework to address issues relating to privacy, he replied in the affirmative.

“The digital privacy regime that rules digital communications is an area which needs to be seriously looked into (by the global community),” he said.

Shahid also said it is for the member nations to decide whether the issue is to be discussed at the UN General Assembly.
Shahid, who met Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla Thursday, is scheduled to meet External Affairs minister S Jaishankar Friday. India is the first country that Shahid is visiting in his capacity as the President-elect of the UN General Assembly after he was elected to the post on June 7.

The alleged use of the Pegasus software to spy on journalists, human rights defenders, politicians and others in a number of countries including India has triggered concerns. Politicians, rights activists and journalists were among those targeted with phone spyware sold to various governments by an Israeli firm, according to an international media consortium.

Asked about long-pending reform of the UN Security Council, Shahid said as President of the UN General Assembly, his role will be to facilitate the member countries to build a greater consensus on the issue.

“It is a member-driven process and, therefore, I would urge the members to make sure that not only the pace of the process is increased but also greater consensus-building takes place,” he said. India has been a serious contender for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

“Maldives was among the initial 10 countries way back in 1970 which requested for the inclusion of an agenda in UN on the reform of the Security Council. The Maldives continues to support India for the membership of the UN Security Council,” he added.

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