" ITREALMS: Internet freedom: UN urged to endorse Geneva declaration

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Internet freedom: UN urged to endorse Geneva declaration

The United Nations (UN) has been urged to endorse the Internet freedom declaration emanating from the just ended second Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy by coalition of global human rights activists and Civil Society Organisations (CSO).

Participants at the session in a communiqué made available to ITRealms Online, weekend, noted that Internet has become a universal space for communication and the exchange of ideas that could promote freedom and mutual understanding among all people, regardless of race, religion, geography or economic status.

They declared that Internet has also become a primary vehicle for communication in all sectors of life in a globalized economy and civil society, thus requiring transparency and openness to function properly, otherwise, it would amount to a breach of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The group said its demands were guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantee the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.

Led by the duo of Yang Jianli of China and Ahmad Batebi of Iran, they group called for the protection of human rights activists imprisoned for social or political expression posted on blogs and other websites.

Just as they believed that the preservation of a free Internet is essential to the full enjoyment of human rights, civil liberties and a free and democratic society.

They expressed dismay over the situation of Internet freedom in many regions of the world, which is increasingly unsafe and under assault, as well as acknowledged the fact that the intimidation and use of technologies aimed at the restriction and monitoring of Internet creates an environment of repression.

In addition, the group affirmed that suppression of independent thought by filtering, monitoring and censoring of websites, online content, blogs and messaging services constitutes a violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

They reminded all countries of the world of their obligations to guarantee Internet freedom, emphasizing that nations which enjoy secure and open Internet technologies are obliged to prevent exported communications technologies from being used as a vehicle for suppression and censorship, and that Internet companies should take reasonable steps to avoid complicity with, and liability for, violations of human rights.

As said by them, the struggle for freedom of expression has today largely shifted online as the Internet has become the means of choice for political dissidents, democracy activists, human rights defenders and independent journalists worldwide, considering the fact that there are particular countries in which the situation of Internet freedom is under threat, with imprisoned political dissidents, journalists and bloggers who are in urgent need of protection by the international community.

ITRealms Online recollects the 2008 Directive of the European Parliament concerning the EU Global Online Freedom Act, which precisely in its finding that authoritarian states such as Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam censor the internet by blocking websites and filtering search results and intimidate internet users through cyber police and obliged registration.

Therefore, they urged the on-going meeting of United Nations Human Rights Council, in its 13th Regular Session, to endorse this declaration and support the cause of Internet freedom in the face of repression.

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