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Together with our members and partners, APC advocates for the protection, promotion and respect of human rights at the national level through different instruments and strategies. One of these key instruments is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a unique mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council involving a periodic review of the human rights records of all UN member states.

Over the years, APC has worked with member organisations and partners to submit stakeholder reports on a range of issues related to human rights online, such as freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of association, privacy, gender-based violence, the right to education and participation in public life. We also advocate strongly for the protection of human rights defenders and media workers, particularly those working on gender and sexuality.

The upcoming 41st session of the UPR will take place from 7 to 18 November 2022 and poses an opportunity to highlight pressing concerns related to human rights online, underline whether governments are fulfilling their commitments and share recommendations to promote accountability. 

This year, APC is involved with the following reviews:

Ecuador (review to be held on 7 November)

Joint stakeholder report on Ecuador: Human rights in the digital environment

Within the framework of the this UPR session, APC and Derechos Digitales want to draw attention to some relevant aspects for the exercise of human rights in the digital environment in Ecuador. Their joint stakeholder report includes the following recommendations:

  • We are asking the Ecuadorian state to ensure access to justice in cases of online gender-based violence and to propose public policies for eliminating violence and discrimination against women.

  • We ask the Ecuadorian state to refrain from deploying massive and/or selective surveillance practices; to respect and promote the right to privacy, in both physical spaces and in the context of digital communication; and to refrain from using surveillance and facial or biometric recognition technologies that fail to meet international standards and obligations.

  • The Ecuadorian government must guarantee the security of public infrastructure and streamline implementation of the Personal Data Protection Act.

  • The Ecuadorian state must refrain from interrupting internet access. It is urgent to repeal any attempt to criminalise or restrict freedom of association, assembly and the right to protest, online or offline.

  • The Ecuadorian state must protect human rights defenders and journalists, as well as guarantee the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and access to information, on and off the internet. The state must protect and promote the availability and use of encrypting and anonymising technologies.

  • We are asking the Ecuadorian state to guarantee access to the internet by working to eliminate the access gap historically faced by vulnerable social groups.

Indonesia (review to be held on 9 November)

Joint stakeholder report on Indonesia: Freedom of expression, freedom of religion and belief, and digital rights

In this submission, APC, EngageMedia and the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) examine Indonesia’s compliance with the recommendations received during the third UPR cycle in 2017. It includes the following recommendations:

  • We recommend the Indonesian state to repeal laws that unnecessarily and disproportionately limit online freedom of expression.

  • The state needs to comply with obligations under ICCPR to respect, promote and protect the rights of all people to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief.

  • The state needs to repeal blasphemy laws that contravene the right to profess and manifest religion or belief online.

  • The state must comply with all of its obligations under CEDAW to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and gender minorities.

  • The Indonesian state needs to ensure privacy protection and transparency in their collection and use of data. There is a need to push forward Laws on Data Protection.

  • The state should revoke regulations that are discriminatory, were not developed based on human rights principles and have a disproportionate impact on women and gender minorities.

India (review to be held on 10 November)

Joint stakeholder report on India

This joint stakeholder report by Access Now, APC and the Internet Freedom Foundation focuses on key issues relating to human rights online in India, including internet shutdowns, digital exclusion, freedom of speech and expression online, online harassment and hate speech, privacy, surveillance and data protection. The report draws on extensive and ongoing monitoring of the situation of human rights online in India by a number of civil society organisations and a desk review. It includes the following recommendations:

  • We recommend that the government of India refrain from intentionally slowing, blocking, or shutting down internet and telecommunications services, websites or applications and ensure that due processes established by law and court judgments are strictly followed, with a robust mechanism for redress and remedy.

  • We recommend implementing comprehensive social auditing and policy analysis of the different artificial intelligence (AI) frameworks; and ensure that when such AI systems are used, that redressal mechanisms are put in place that do not put the burden on the welfare beneficiaries.

  • We recommend that the government repeal or amend laws and regulations, including Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, which restrict freedom of expression and bring them in line with international human rights law.

  • We recommend that the Indian government amend laws addressing hate speech to bring them in line with international human rights standards and ensure that they are not misused to undermine freedom of expression of minorities, while holding accountable those engaging in incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence against minorities.

  • We recommend that the government pass a comprehensive law on informational privacy and surveillance, which strongly regulates state-sponsored surveillance and imposes limitations in line with necessity and proportionality.

Brazil (review to be held on 14 November)

Joint stakeholder report on Brazil

This report submitted by APC, ARTIGO 19 Brasil e América do Sul, Derechos Digitales and Intervozes focuses on Brazil's fulfilment of human rights obligations in the digital context, and includes the following recommendations:

  • The Brazilian state must limit the use of biometric surveillance technologies such as facial recognition in public spaces until there is international consensus on the impact of this technology on the exercise of human rights. Its use for the purpose of public safety or controlling access to government spaces or services must be prohibited.

  • The Brazilian state must urgently create public policies for digital inclusion that contemplate the universalisation of high-quality internet access, prioritising vulnerable populations.

  • It is urgent for the state to adopt measures favouring the right to privacy. For example, strengthening the independence of the national data protection authority, so that it may monitor compliance by public and private institutions with the established rules, presenting clear guidelines on the interpretation of provisions in the law.

  • It is urgent for the Brazilian state to work on creating public policies and adequate measures to fight all forms of gender-based violence, both on and off the internet.

  • We demand of the Brazilian state the repeal, non-adoption or review of rules that enable online surveillance and the criminalisation of human rights and information security activists.

Philippines (review to be held on 14 November)

Joint stakeholder report on the Philippines 

This report, led by Foundation for Media Alternatives and with inputs from Access Now and the Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), includes the following recommendations:

  • We ask the government of the Philippines to review the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and its implementing rules and regulations and take immediate steps to repeal or amend the law in line with international human rights standards.

  • We encourage the government to Repeal Section 4(c)4 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (RA 10175) on online libel and likewise decriminalise libel in the country.

  • We call on the government  to investigate all cases of threats, intimidation and attacks against independent media personnel and human rights defenders and to guarantee the establishment of a safe and enabling environment for the work of human rights defenders, specifically through the adoption of a law for their protection and recognition.

  • We ask the government to repeal Section 4(c)1 of RA 10175 on cybersex and implement and strengthen existing laws that protect women against violence, sexual harassment and abuse.

  • We encourage the government to protect women's rights online and take immediate and effective action to respond to all forms of online gender-based violence.

  • We call on the government to take measures to ensure that provisions requiring independent judicial authorisation of communication surveillance are respected and implemented, and that in such cases, limitations on privacy are strictly and narrowly in compliance with the international legal principles of legality, necessity and proportionality.

  • Review the Data Privacy Act of 2012 to establish a comprehensive legal framework for data protection with adequate and effective privacy safeguard.

  • Ensure that all existing and future laws, policies, and government systems are compliant with the provisions and consistent with the principles of the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and with international rights-focused best practices on data protection.

More information on the UPR sessions here. Documentation by country here.
See also:

APC at the Universal Periodic Review

Introduction to the Universal Periodic Review, an online course organised by Advocacy Assembly and APC

Making an impact with the Universal Periodic Review, an online course  organised by Advocacy Assembly and APC.