G7 signs Open Societies Statement on freedom of expression

The ‘Open Societies Statement’ supporting freedom of expression online was signed by G-7 countries, and India, South Korea, Australia, and South Africa as part of the summit in Cornwall, UK. The statement was an output of the  ‘Building Back Together—Open Societies and Economies’ session, where Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi participated as lead speaker. The statement specifically refers to ‘politically motivated internet shutdowns’ as a threat to freedom and democracy. Earlier versions ‘unequivocally condemned internet shutdowns’, but a compromise was made on language to secure India’s signature.

This comes in the wake of a recent letter from seven United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders on the arrest and detention of Chhattisgarh Adivasi rights activist Hidme Markam and the severe charges leveled against her, and concerns about the situation in China and Russia. The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations has refuted the concerns.