June 06, 2017
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) Tuesday launched the Tracking Error 404: IFJ-SAMSN Guide to Monitoring Internet Shutdowns during the ongoing campaign against internet shutdowns in South Asia.
The #JournosAgainstShutdowns campaign aims to raise awareness among media workers on the impact of internet shutdowns as a freedom of expression and press freedom issue; encourage journalists and their unions and professional organizations to advocate against and monitor shutdowns; strengthen regional collaboration and join international efforts and coalitions in advocacy against internet shutdowns.
“Shutting down online access has direct economic, social and psychological consequences on states and citizens alike. However, internet shutdowns strike at the very foundation of freedom of expression and press freedom and have major implications for the media. This is why journalists must be at the forefront of campaigns for free access to the internet,” the IFJ said.
The Guide is primarily targeted to journalists and their unions, and lists out ways to systematically monitor and document internet shutdowns. Such systematic evidence can help gauge the extent and nature of shutdowns at not only national or provincial levels but also at the local level. The systematic recording of internet shutdowns will help provide data that can feed evidence-based and effective campaigns to keep the internet on.
Union leaders of South Asia have called for an end to internet shutdowns saying they are against freedom of expression and press freedom.
Rahimullah Samandar, President of the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) said: “Shutting down and blocking of the internet is a major concern for journalists in South Asia as it limits journalists’ work and violates press freedom.”
Anita Bindu, the vice-president of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) said: “Internet shutdowns are attacks on freedom of expression and press freedom therefore are not desirable in democracy.”
C Dodawatta, the convenor of Free Media Movement (FMM) Sri Lanka, said: “In this era in which the horizons of expression have been broadened, restrictions for freedom of expression in the Asian region and cutting down the rights should be denounced. We Asians have a special right to act against such restrictions, and therefore we stand against internet shutdown in the region."
“Freedom of expression is the first casualty when internet shutdowns happen. To perform their professional duties and responsibilities, journalists and media need access online and offline at all times,” the IFJ said. “Therefore, every journalist needs to monitor and document internet shutdowns; and report the big story behind internet shutdowns.”
In 2016, South Asia experienced the highest number of internet shutdowns globally with India, Pakistan and Bangladesh having documented evidence of a high number of internet shutdowns. – IFJ Media Release/Image: Software Freedom Law Centre, India
Pakistan Observer, November 13, 2016