India: Democratic rights must be respected and protected in Jammu and Kashmir

Posted on Aug 6, 2019

(Kathmandu/Bangkok, 6 August 2019) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and its members are deeply concerned over the developments in India administered Jammu and Kashmir, where, over the last few days, fundamental human rights have been severely curtailed. We also condemn the outright revocation of Article 370 and its allied Bills, which was passed yesterday by executive orders without following a consultative process.

Article 370 provides special status to Jammu and Kashmir, which includes the power of self-governance. This was a foundational constitutional compact and an important provision to provide confidence to the Kashmiris. Similar special status was awarded to other States, such as Nagaland and Manipur under Articles 371A and 371C of...

Promoting citizen journalism and ending information darkness is the key to development

Posted on May 3, 2019

Islamabad, May 3, 2019: The control over electronic media as well as online media has been increasingly damaging the independent and ethical journalism in Pakistan. This is evident from the several globally known rankings, which should be a major cause of concern for democracy in the country. Quite a few TV channels and newspapers were forced to shut down their operations in the past year due to financial constraint as they lost most of their viewers due to controls and self-censorship.

With increasing controls and silencing of mainstream media, the spaces for free expression and opinion are rapidly shrinking. On social media, the activities of journalists, bloggers and writers are being surveilled and targeted through cyber armies, which often result in self-censorship....

PakVoices launches AAPCJ

Posted on Apr 29, 2019

Islamabad, (April 29, 2019): Pakvoices.pk, a community media initiative has launched AAPCJ (Association of All Pakistan Citizen Journalists) for digital media entrepreneurs, citizen journalists and practitioners. AAPCJ’s main aim is to promote alternative media spaces in the country and to further the cause of freedom of expression, opinion, association and assembly in online spaces.

AAPCJ aspires to be a membership-led independent platform, construed to promote solidarity amongst the digital media activists and practitioners. Through this platform, digital media practitioners and activists will be provided with opportunities along with relevant discussions held to protect and promote their work. AAPCJ endeavors to bring together digital media practitioners,...

Pakistan Internet Landscape Report 2018 launches

Posted on Apr 12, 2019

Karachi/Islamabad, April 12, 2019: The annual Pakistan Internet Landscape report published by human rights and advocacy organization Bytes For All was launched today at the Pearl Continental Hotel in Karachi. The event included a panel discussion by experts including journalist and media researcher Jahanzaib Haque who authored the report; senior journalist and TV show host Zarrar Khuhro; Co-founder Women's Advancement Hub Aisha Sarwari and Human Rights Defender Marvi Sirmed.

The latest report highlights trends in local cyberspace related to key topics including internet access, censorship and privacy, cybercrime and hacking, child porn, blasphemy, fake news, e-commerce and fin-tech/branchless banking, among others.

The report notes that outside of the positive outlook in e-commerce...

Statement on Peace and Human Rights in South Asia

Posted on Mar 7, 2019

Civil society organisations from across South Asia, see full list of signatories below, are deeply concerned about the recent tensions between Pakistan and India. We call up on the Governments of the two countries to take immediate steps to further de-escalate the tension, to create an enabling environment for peace dialogue, and to protect human rights in Kashmir.

The recent serious escalation of the long-standing conflict between India and Pakistan is another stark reminder of the urgent need to return the dialogue table and restart the peace process, particularly when it comes to Kashmir. The confrontation last week was triggered by a suicide attack in Pulwama, which killed 40 Indian soldiers. In the wake of this incident there allegedly was an increase of arbitrary detentions in Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in further alienation, mistrust and the violation of human rights...

Rabat Plan of Action: Towards impactful implementation and reinvigoration

Posted on Mar 6, 2019

Islamabad, (March 3, 2019): Hate speech and its interaction with faith, race or nationality, is a tricky subject with regards to identifying the thin line between its legitimacy and unlawfulness. The reason lies in the absence of any standard definition of the hate speech. However, Rabat Plan of Action (RPA) 2012 provides more consensus guidelines for judging certain speech as acceptable or harmful.

Since RPA’s adoption in October 2012, the plan has been vetted by different stakeholders with reference to different cultural contexts and realities. Courts including European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) have also referenced RPA’s paragraph 15 in one of high profile case between Maria Alekhena and others vs Russia to determine whether a particular expression constitutes a criminal offense or not.

Similarly, the civil society is another stakeholder, who...