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25 November 2018

COP24 Digital Protection Advice Bulletin

Press Release

Front Line Defenders Releases Digital Protection Advice for
Activists & Journalists Attending COP-24 in Katowice, Poland

Concerns Over New Law Designed to Suppress Civil Society at COP24

[Dublin, Ireland] COP24 – officially the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and what has unofficially become the annual gathering of civil society activists from around the world to support the environment and combat climate change – opens on 3 December in Katowice, Poland, with authorities empowered to clamp down on civil society with enhanced legal powers. In January 2018, the Polish government introduced and later passed legislation known as: ‘On specific solutions related to the organization of the session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in the Republic of Poland’ Bill, clearly targeting civil society.

To help civil society activists, human rights defenders, and journalists attending COP24 in Katowice, Front Line Defenders has today released advice related to digital protection, outlining key security measures that should be taken to enhance the safety of data.

Download the
COP24 Digital Protection
Advice Bulletin

“We have witnessed over the last few years how civil society in Poland is under pressure from a government that has trampled on institutions and sought to consolidate power,” said Andrew Anderson, Executive Director of Front Line Defenders. “However, by hosting an international conference under the auspices of the UN, the Polish government has expanded its target to global civil society with the passage of this legislation. Given the assault on climate change science by right-wing nationalist governments, the green light given to the security forces and police by this law to target civil society and human rights defenders is gravely worrying. Front Line Defenders urges all who will attend the conference and side activities in Katowice to take and use this advice to enable better digital protection.”

According to The Intercept, the law “empowers Polish authorities to solicit other countries for information on COP24 attendees coming from abroad, including any police records and intelligence gathered by state surveillance. This information can be collected ‘without the knowledge or consent’ of the people it’s collected from, and stored through March 2019. The legislation would ban spontaneous protests within Katowice city limits, permitting only demonstrations approved by the city in advance.”1

In May 2018, UN Special Rapporteurs John Knox, Michel Forst, David Kaye, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule and Joe Cannataci urged the government of Poland to ensure free and full participation at the climate talks. They noted that the legislation “appears to give sweeping surveillance powers to the police and secret services to collect and process personal data about all COP24 participants” and “appears to prevent spontaneous peaceful assemblies in Katowice.”2

Front Line Defenders echoes the call of the UN Special Rapporteurs, and urges civil society activists, human rights defenders and journalists to take all necessary precautions outlined in the Digital Security Bulletin.

For more information:

Erin Kilbride
Media Coordinator

1“Poland’s New Surveillance Law Targets Personal Data of Environmental Advocates, Threatening U.N. Climate Talks,” by Kate Anroff, The Intercept, 2 July 2018.

2“UN experts urge Poland to ensure free and full participation at climate talks,” 7 May 2018