NEW YORK: New York will appoint an independent monitor to review counter-terror police investigations as part of reforms designed to protect Muslims from discriminatory and blanket surveillance, officials said Thursday.
Civil liberty campaigners welcomed the changes, which settle two lawsuits, saying the move by the country's largest police force sent a powerful message at a time of rising anti-Islamic sentiment.
The lawsuits alleged that New York police stigmatized communities based solely on religion, and that lawful political and religious activities were subject to unwarranted police surveillance following the 9/11 attacks.
The terms of the settlement, which were reached after more than a year of negotiations, must be approved by a federal judge.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which helped bring one of the suits, welcomed what it called a "watershed."
Discriminatory surveillance sowed fear and mistrust, drove down mosque attendance and forced religious leaders to censor conversations out of concern that they might be misunderstood, the group said.
Hina Shamsi, ACLU National Security Project director, said it introduced "much-needed constraints on law enforcement's