Media Freedom in Southeast Asia: Repeal Restrictive Laws, Strengthen Quality Journalism

Download Full Report Media Freedom in Southeast Asia: Repeal Restrictive Laws, Strengthen Quality Journalism examines the use of fake news legislation to crack down on legitimate journalistic expression. Seeking to control the flow of information in the online space, governments have enacted these laws to monitor and control the internet infrastructure over which information critical or unflattering of the government can be disseminated. The laws contain vaguely-worded provisions penalising the act of spreading disinformation or information that authorities consider harmful to national security, public order and social harmony. While the negative dimensions of online content are of concern, the increased…

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Business and Human Rights in Southeast Asia: Developing National Action Plans

Download full report AbstractThis work examines the progress made in Southeast Asia towards developing National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights (BHR). A decade after the adoption of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights, has there been an uptake in NAPs in the region? What are the various NAPs development processes and platforms across the region? Have all stakeholders been consulted? What are the obstacles to deepening the NAPs processes and the BHR agenda in the region? This work finds that: 1) An initial grudging uptake by States has engendered a cascade in…

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Harmony Laws in Southeast Asia: Majority Dominance, Minority Repression

Download full report Harmony Laws in Southeast Asia: Majority Dominance, Minority Repression analyses the legal framework and the impact on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and racial discrimination in Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Singapore. Colonial era-laws are being supplemented with “harmony” and other laws to manage communal tensions. All four countries are ethnically and religiously diverse with colonial histories and primarily make use of legal provisions to maintain public order and internal stability while appeasing the ethno-religious majority. These legal measures often compromise FoRB and the airing of grievances of minority communities. In Malaysia, the divide between the Muslim majority…

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Internet Freedoms in Cambodia: A Gateway to Control

Download full report Internet Freedoms in Cambodia: A Gateway to Control analyses the state of internet freedoms in Cambodia, in light of recent legislation such as the 2021 National Internet Gateway Sub-Decree (NIG). Cambodia is a state-party to major international covenants and conventions, and declares it respects human rights. Yet its national laws are not aligned to international human rights standards. Instead, the government exerts tight control over all online content, and uses anti-defamation or state security provisions to stifle criticisms against it. Vaguely-worded legislation also allows intrusive monitoring of individuals, such as recording their private conversations and using it…

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The Securitisation of COVID-19 Health Protocols: Policing the Vulnerable, Infringing their Rights

Download full report The Securitisation of COVID-19 Health Protocols: Policing the Vulnerable, Infringing their Rights analyses the impact of securitised COVID-19 health protocols on the human rights of vulnerable communities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Sri Lanka. The report reviews the COVID-19 temporary and emergency legislations, the role of the law enforcement agencies in implementing these legal measures, and the digital surveillance and contact tracing measures used to track people’s movements. The review shows that all these actions have impacted the human rights of vulnerable and marginalised communities. The report hence highlights the importance of integrating international human rights…

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“Infodemic” and SDGs: Internet Freedoms in Southeast Asia

Download full report “Infodemic” and SDGs: Internet Freedoms in Southeast Asia, evaluates the impact of the ‘infodemic’ on internet freedoms in Southeast Asia. Using the Sustainable Development Goals as an indicator, the study analyses how the pandemic has exerted a debilitating effect on the development of internet infrastructure, fundamental freedoms and access to information as articulated in SDG 9.C (Access and Affordability of Internet) and SDG 16.10 (Fundamental Freedoms and Access to Information). The report further highlights that a suite of existing legislation and emergency measures—used by governments to silence their critics, rather than repress the infodemic—have served to regress…

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Timor-Leste: Internet Freedoms Under Threat

Download full report Timor-Leste: Internet Freedoms Under Threat analyses the state of internet freedoms against the background of emerging national legislation pertaining to online content and privacy of data. With the rise in internet and social media usage, the scrutiny of government figures on digital platforms has resulted in a push for legislation aimed at cracking down on criticism, and allowing for surveillance and interception of online content. The collection of personal data in a move to digitalise public administration and the economy, furthers the risk of online surveillance of critics. This report examines the potential regression in online political…

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Myanmar: Dismantling Dissent Crackdowns on Internet Freedoms

Download Full Report Myanmar: Dismantling Dissent - Crackdowns on Internet Freedoms examines the state of internet freedoms in Myanmar. Since the military coup on 1 February 2021, any semblance of true freedom of expression online has drastically deteriorated. It is a sharp decline from the  increased user growth and adoption of social media platforms for political expression. This report examines a range of national laws that have been used to impact internet freedoms, namely the Constitution, Penal Code, Electronic Transactions Law, Telecommunications Law, and Law Protecting the Privacy and Security of Citizens in the last 10 years. To ensure the…

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Waging War Against COVID-19

Download Waging War Against COVID-19: The Securitisation of the Health Response in Five Asian Countries, evaluates the various health responses enacted by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Sri Lanka. This briefing note categories the health responses as blended civil, securitised or militarised. Such an approach shows that authorities in the region, tackling the COVID-19 situation, primarily approach it as public security rather than a public health threat. This briefing note is a prelude to the full report The Securitisation of COVID-19 Health Protocols: Policing the Vulnerable, Infringing their Rights.

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Defending Freedom of Expression

Download Full Report AbstractDefending Freedom of Expression: Fake News Laws in East and Southeast Asia published by Asia Centre and the Council of Asia Liberals and Democrats (CALD) examines the existing and recently enacted laws and policies in the region which govern disinformation. The aim of the report is to provide a policy tool of ideas to empower legislators, political party leaders, academics, civil society activists, journalists to protect freedom of expression. This report compares the impact of legislation in countries with multiparty legislatures and independent government institutions, and countries with one dominant political force and an absence of independent…

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