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Settlement approved in NYPD Muslim surveillance case

[JURIST] A second federal judge has signed off on a revised settlement [settlement, PDF] in a suit that had accused the New York City Police [official website] of illegally surveilling Muslim communities in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. Judges Chen and Haight were the judges for href="https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/raza-v-city-new-york-complaint">Raza v. City of New York [complaint] and Handschu v. Special Services Division [case materials], and both had to sign off on the revised settlement before it could take effect. The finalized settlement prohibits investigations in which race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin is a substantial or motivating factor; limits the NYPD's use of undercovers and confidential informants to situations in which the information sought cannot reasonably be obtained in a timely and effective way by less intrusive means; and installs a civilian representative within the NYPD with the power and obligation to ensure all safeguards are followed and to serve as a check on investigations directed at political and religious activities.

An initial settlement had been reached in 2015, but Haight refused to approve it last October [JURIST report], finding it did not sufficiently protect the constitutional rights of Muslim citizens residing in the city. Earlier this month this revised settlement was reached [JURIST report] to Haight's approval. In October 2015 the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] revived the civil rights lawsuit filed by a coalition of Muslim groups that accused the NYPD of conducting unjustified surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey. In April 2014 the new commissioner of the NYPD William Bratton announced [JURIST report] the disbanding of the Demographics Unit surveillance unit used to spy on the Muslim communities. In February 2014 a judge for the US District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled [JURIST report] that the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims was a lawful effort for national security and did not constitute harm or violation of civil rights. In September 2013 former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly admitted [JURIST report] that the NYPD spied on mosques and on a Muslim preacher but requested that the court dismiss the complaint.

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