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India Should End Social Media Ban In Kashmir, Guarantee Freedom Of Expression, Say UN Experts

"Denying such access disrupts the free exchange of ideas"

11/05/2017 8:04 PM IST | Updated 11/05/2017 8:07 PM IST
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Two United Nations human rights experts have said that India should end its ban on social media networks and on mobile internet services in Kashmir and guarantee freedom of expression for its citizens.

A statement published by the office of the high commissioner of United Nations Human Rights quoted the experts as saying, "The scope of these restrictions has a significantly disproportionate impact on the fundamental rights of everyone in Kashmir, undermining the Government's stated aim of preventing dissemination of information that could lead to violence."

"The internet and telecommunications bans have the character of collective punishment and fail to meet the standards required under international human rights law to limit freedom of expression," said UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye.

The statement said that experts, in 2016 the Human Rights Council, had noted that the central human rights body in the UN system, condemned such online disruptions and called upon States to avoid such shutdowns.

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst backed Kaye and said, "Denying such access disrupts the free exchange of ideas and the ability of individuals to connect with one another and associate peacefully on matters of shared concern."

A total of 22 websites - including Facebook, WhatsApp, SnapChat, YouTube, Flikr, Tumblr, Google+, Skype, Viber, Pinterest and Reddit - and data services were banned on April 17 on orders from the government.

Meanwhile, IANS reported that New Delhi has maintained that the ban was aimed at preventing circulation of information that might aggravate violence.

The order, that had announced the ban, had said that there was a need to "regulate" social media platforms because "anti-national and anti-social elements" were transmitting unverified messages through these platforms without any accountability.

(With IANS inputs)

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