Religion

Judge Rules Muslim Surveillance Settlement Unacceptable

| by Zara Zhi

A New York City judge says that more protection is needed for Muslims in a case against the NYPD spying on Muslim citizens.

Two cases in 2011 involving the NYPD conducting extensive reconnaissance of Muslims were taken to court and a settlement was reached in January.

Pending approval by a judge, the settlement prompted Mayor Bill De Blasio to assign a civilian proctor of the NYPD’s counter-terrorism department.

However, Manhattan Federal Judge Charles Haight said the proposed agreement did not go far enough in safeguarding the rights of Muslims.

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“The proposed role and powers of the civilian representative do not furnish sufficient protection from potential violations of the constitutional rights of those law-abiding Muslims and believers in Islam who live, move and have their being in this city,” Haight wrote in his ruling.

As a result, a new settlement will have to be talked by the parties involved or it will be taken to court, according to The Guardian.

“We hope it convinces the NYPD to establish additional protections against unwarranted surveillance,” attorneys for the plaintiffs said in a statement.

“For the sake of New York Muslims and all New Yorkers, we urge that reforms are implemented as soon as possible.”

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City and police officials say the surveillance program launched after the 9/11 attacks and was an appropriate method in averting another terrorist attack.

A spokesman for the city’s law department said, “We are disappointed that the settlement was not approved as the parties originally proposed.”

In June 2013, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a Brooklyn Federal Court suit alleging that the Muslim surveillance program besieged people based solely on their religious beliefs, naming then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly as defendants.

Haight’s key dispute in the initial agreement was the influence and selection of the civilian representative. The settlement states that the mayor has control over who will be appointed as the civilian representative and has the power to eradicate the position after five years.

It also specifies the monitor should report breaches to the police commissioner, who is only compelled to inspect the incident.

But the judge contended that the monitor should instead file quarterly reports to the court, reports New York Daily News.

“The ruling is an opportunity to put stronger safeguards in place and we very much look forward to discussing the court’s suggestions with the NYPD and with the city,” said Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at CUNY School of Law. “Because we believe that this is in the interest of all New Yorkers, we hope that the reforms are implemented as soon as possible.”

Sources: The Guardian, New York Daily News / Photo credit: Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News

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