Amnesty International releases 2017/2018 human rights report

Amnesty International has released its The State of the World’s Human Rights 2017/18, which covers 159 countries. Amnesty’s announcement reports that ‘In 2017, the world witnessed a rollback of human rights’, and that, among many other points, ‘Internet controls were strengthened’. Among Internet issues in particular, the report notes (excerpts): 

  • Cameroon and Togo blocked the internet to prevent journalists from doing their jobs and closed media outlets.
  • In Afghanistan, where internet penetration is among the lowest in the Asia-Pacific region, a new Cyber Crime Law was passed criminalizing freedom of expression.
  • In Kazakhstan, journalists and activists faced politically motivated prosecutions and attacks. Having all but strangled independent media already, the authorities used increasingly elaborate and aggressive methods to stamp out dissenting voices on the internet and social media.
  • Vague laws punishing ‘glorification’ or ‘apology’ of terrorism were used to prosecute activists and civil society groups for opinions expressed on the internet and social media, including in France, Spain and the UK.
  • The State of Palestine adopted the Electronic Crimes Law in July, permitting the arbitrary detention of journalists, whistle-blowers and others who criticize the authorities online. The law allowed for prison sentences and up to 25 years’ hard labour for anyone deemed to have disturbed ‘public order’, ‘national unity’ or ‘social peace’.
  • [In Azerbaijan] On 12 January, Afgan Sadygov, a journalist and blogger from Jalilabad District, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. He was prosecuted under hooliganism charges, after writing about government
  • corruption and refusing to remove his articles from the internet.
  • [In Cameroon] Between January and April, and in early October, telephone and internet services were cut in the English-speaking regions, with no official explanation.
  • [In China] Controls on the internet were strengthened. […] On 1 June, the Cybersecurity Law came into effect, making it obligatory for internet companies operating in China to censor users’ content [among many other examples].
  • [In Equatorial Guinea] Internet access was severely disrupted for at least five days.
  • [In Gabon] On 27 August, security forces arrested Hervé Mombo Kinga, an activist and prominent supporter of Jean Ping. He had publicly projected videos next to his internet café, and was charged with “instigating violence” and “insulting the Head of State”, and spent one and a half months in solitary confinement. He remained in detention at the end of the year.
  • [Indonesia] On 9 May, Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian known as Ahok, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for “insulting Islam” in a video posted on the internet.
  • In April, the Seoul Administrative Court ruled as unlawful the decision by the Korea Communications Standards Commission, which censors internet content, to ban a blog entitled “North Korea Tech” covering IT development in North Korea.
  • [In Togo] The authorities shut down the internet for nine days in September amid opposition-led protests, disrupting the organization of the protest and impeding the work of human rights defenders and journalists who were monitoring the protests.