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After Amnesty, Human Right Watch asks India to lift internet ban

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on April 03, 2020 Published on April 03, 2020

The Human Rights Watch on Wednesday asked four countries, including India, to immediately lift the restrictions on internet usage and restore data transmission at full speed. The international non-governmental organization said such restrictions violate multiple rights and can be perilous during a health crisis like coronavirus, as per media reports.

The international human rights body, in a statement, said: “Governments that are currently imposing an internet shutdown, such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, and Myanmar, should lift them immediately to save lives. Intentionally shutting down or restricting access to the internet violates multiple rights and can be deadly during a health crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic.”

India had the most internet shutdown with at least 385 such instances since 2012.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the government had imposed a complete communications blackout in August 2019, which prevented many from communicating to family and relatives located outside the Valley and crumbled the local economy.

“Phone services were gradually restored, but it was only after the Supreme Court found the internet shutdown illegal in January 2020 that service was partially restored, and only at 2G speed, the human rights body said.

The New York- based international institution also said that the Covid-19 infected people in the country have reported not being able to access websites for information about the pandemic due to highly restricted internet speed that makes accessing anything beyond text messages nearly impossible.

“Delhi-based Internet Freedom Foundation has called on the government to make all tools, including high-speed internet, available to doctors and patients to save lives,” it said, adding that access to timely and accurate information is crucial during a health crisis.

“People use the internet for updates on health measures, movement restrictions and relevant news to protect themselves and others, the human rights body added.

The statement came after Amnesty International appealed to India on similar lines.

Amnesty International, in its statement, said: “After interviewing over a dozen detainees, journalists, lawyers and businesspersons and obtaining information through 255 Right to Information applications and communications to government departments in Jammu and Kashmir, the organization has documented the use of administrative detention on adults and minors often through verbal orders, prolonged communication blockade and absolute lack of transparency in the region.”

Published on April 03, 2020

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