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Amnesty International Calls for Immediate Restoration of Twitter in Pakistan Amid Concerns Over Human Rights

2024-03-26 03:30:42.057000

Civil society organizations in Pakistan have expressed concern over the increasing instances of internet shutdowns and social media platform blocking in the lead up to and following the general elections. They argue that these actions infringe upon freedom of expression and access to information, and undermine political discourse [ea12e72d].

The disruptions began after former Rawalpindi commissioner Liaquat Chattha accused the chief election commissioner and chief justice of Pakistan of involvement in rigging the February 8 general elections. Similar disruptions were also observed during the general elections [b95b151f].

Human rights activists and civil society organizations have called for the repeal of laws enabling censorship, transparency in decision-making processes, and adherence to international commitments on freedom of expression and access to information. They emphasize that such actions have a direct impact on citizens' human rights, including the right to political participation [ea12e72d].

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has been criticized for its lack of transparency and accountability in blocking platforms and disrupting internet services. Information Minister Ataullah Tarar has stated that he is against censorship but also emphasized the need to protect the state [b95b151f].

Civil society organizations involved in this condemnation include Bolo Bhi, Media Matters for Democracy, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Aurat March Lahore, Pakistan Digital Editors Alliance, and several activists and journalists [b95b151f].

Amnesty International, along with human rights activists and civil society organizations, has called on the Pakistani government to immediately restore social media platform Twitter, which has been blocked in the country since February 17. The platform ban came after the blockage of mobile phone services on election day, February 8. Amnesty International stated that the blocking of platforms and the prolonged disruption of Twitter is a sobering illustration of growing digital censorship in Pakistan. The organization criticized the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for its silence and lack of transparency in the decision-making process. Amnesty International and its partners called for the government to unblock Twitter, repeal laws facilitating censorship, and make decisions impacting internet usage transparent. Activists are continuing their legal battle to secure the restoration of Twitter in Pakistan [0812b7f5] [503eebff].

Amnesty International has also expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Pakistan. The organization has urged the Pakistani government to take immediate action to protect the rights of individuals who have been detained without trial. Amnesty International has called for the release of those who have been imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The organization has also called on the Pakistani authorities to investigate cases of enforced disappearances and hold those responsible accountable. Amnesty International has urged the international community to put pressure on the Pakistani government to address the human rights situation in the country. The organization has called for targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for human rights abuses in Pakistan. Additionally, Amnesty International has called on the Pakistani government to repeal laws that restrict freedom of expression and assembly. The organization has called for the establishment of an independent and impartial mechanism to investigate allegations of human rights violations in Pakistan [1c8eabeb].

X, formerly known as Twitter, was blocked in Pakistan on Feb 17, 2024. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) initially denied blocking X but later admitted to it. The PTA presented a backdated notice from the interior ministry as evidence. The PTA's actions violate the laws and court orders that govern its jurisdiction. The PTA is supposed to follow due process before blocking or removing online content, but it did not provide any notice or opportunity for appeal to X. Blocking websites without notice or hearing is a violation of fundamental rights. The blocking of X without transparency or justification undermines democratic discourse and citizens' access to information. More than 27 civil society organizations have called for the ban to be lifted and for problematic legislation to be repealed. The impact of censorship on the IT sector and the economy is significant. Upholding the rule of law and transparency is crucial for attracting foreign investors and preventing authoritarianism [b37ddc99].

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