Amnesty International urges govt to ensure uninterrupted access to internet

Amnesty International, along with several other human rights organisations, has urged Pakistani authorities to guarantee uninterrupted access to the internet and digital communication platforms for everyone across the country during the general elections.

“In light of the statement by caretaker interior minister Gohar Ejaz, we urge [interim PM] Anwaarul Haq Kakar and ECP to ensure people across the country have full access to the internet and social media platforms to exercise their right to freedom of expression and freely share and access information,” it said in a post on X.

The Amnesty International South Asia, Regional Office also shared the letter in its post.

Ejaz at a press conference on Tuesday hinted at suspending the internet service on Election Day amid incidents of violence in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“So far, there has been no decision made regarding this [suspension of internet services at any place],” he said, “if there is any request from any district or province then it will be seen according to that district and province and what is the threat there.”

The letter shared by the Amnesty was sent by the undersigned organisations and members of the Keep it on coalition, a global network of over 300 organisations from 105 countries working to end internet shutdowns.

“As the people of Pakistan prepare to vote, authorities in Pakistan must adopt and prioritise measures that advance human rights, by enabling unrestricted access to information and avenues for freedom of expression, assembly, and association — both offline and online. This will also contribute to an inclusive, free, and fair election process.”

They were of the view that the internet and social media platforms play a critical role in enhancing participatory governance, advancing inclusiveness and transparency, and enabling the enjoyment of fundamental human rights in a democratic society.

“These platforms enable public discourse about election processes and political candidates, and allow voters to hold governments accountable for their actions. Access to the internet and digital platforms also facilitates effective election reporting, monitoring, and coverage by journalists, human rights defenders, and election observers.”

Organisatioins urged the government to refrain from ordering the disruption of telecommunications services, social media platforms, or other digital communication platforms throughout the elections.

They asked the government to ensure that telecommunications and internet service providers implement all necessary measures to provide high-quality, secure, unrestricted, and uninterrupted internet access throughout the election period.


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