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The rights to freedom of assembly and of association (FoAA) are among the fundamental human rights enshrined in the domestic law of Pakistan and the International Bill of Human Rights. Domestically, FoAA is outlined in Articles 16 and 17 of the Constitution of Pakistan. Internationally, FoAA is outlined in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Articles 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and Article 8 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). These rights are among the fundamental requisites for a democracy and a vital means for exercising many other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, allowing people to express their political opinions, engage in artistic pursuits, engage in religious observances, form and join trade unions, elect leaders to represent their interests, and hold them accountable.
This report on the state of freedom of peaceful assembly and association online in Pakistan forms part of the baseline research conducted for the APC-IMPACT project (India, Malaysia and Pakistan: Advocacy for Change through Technology) , which aims to address restrictions on the internet by promoting and protecting internet rights. A joint initiative of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and its members and partners – Digital Empowerment Foundation (India), Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER) (Malaysia) and Bytes for All (Pakistan) – the project works specifically to advance freedom of expression, freedom of information, and freedom of assembly and association as enablers of human rights and democratisation.