New Delhi, March 19 (KMS): The Amnesty International has said that India must restore full access to internet services in occupied Kashmir and ensure that people have full access to health and safety-related information in the wake of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Amnesty International India in a statement issued in New Delhi, today, said, despite the rising number of cases, the IOK authorities recently ordered for the continued restrictions on full internet services such as restricting the speed to 2G in the territory. It added, complete internet shutdowns have also been imposed intermittently in certain areas in the guise of security.
“There is growing anxiety around the pandemic and unwarranted restrictions on content and dissemination of information only stands to add to the panic. Complete shutdowns or restricting of internet speed or access makes it difficult for people to navigate their way through a difficult time further undermining their trust in the authorities. The Government of India needs to adopt a rights-respecting approach to protect public health and restore access to 4G speed internet,” said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director, Amnesty International India, in the statement.
He said that the human rights approach must be at the centre of all prevention, preparedness, containment, and treatment efforts to protect public health and support the most vulnerable groups. The right to health, as guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, provides for the right to access healthcare.
“The people of Kashmir have the right to remain informed of the threat to their health, the measures to mitigate risks, early warning information of possible future consequences and information on ongoing response efforts. They have the right to information in the local languages and through media and in formats that can be easily understood and accessed, so that they can fully participate and take informed decisions in the response efforts. Failures to do so can heighten the sense of helplessness, anger and frustration, undermine the public health response, but the health of others at risk, and may constitute human rights violations,” he further added.
“The situation in relation to the coronavirus is constantly evolving. To ensure its full communication to the people of Jammu & Kashmir, the Government of India must urgently lift internet restrictions in the region and ensure real-time preparedness of the people against the spread of the virus. The responses to coronavirus cannot be based on human rights violations and a lack of transparency and censorship,” said Avinash Kumar.