The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and organisations supporting this joint statement welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. David Kaye, to be presented at the 35th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). We also welcome the Special Rapporteur’s timely attention paid to network shutdowns in conflict-stricken Kashmir and the brutal murder of prominent blogger and human rights defender Yameen Rasheed in the Maldives, which are indicative of the worsening environment for online rights in the Asian region.
Throughout Asia and the world, people have taken to social media and online platforms to express themselves in ways that were not possible through traditional offline mediums. States have realised the empowering impact of free expression online and have, in some cases, tried to impose greater regulation. Offline regulations, typically in penal legislation, are being applied to online spaces, to bolster internet-specific legislation. Legitimate expression on the internet is, as a result, increasingly being redefined as cybercrime.
Based on the observations of APC and its partners, this submission highlights laws criminalising online expression in the following jurisdictions: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand.