Covid-19 Policies Impact Information Rights

  • Post author:
  • Post category:News

The COVID-19 related infodemic in Southeast Asia is affecting access to accurate information. This is in part caused by the implementation of the government’s public health policies for the pandemic. Censorship of information on the COVID-19 situation, propaganda from state-sponsored media to spin a positive image of the government and other policies are the key causes of disinformation.This was the major view that emerged from speakers of session two’s panel discussion, “Respect for Human Rights: Measurement and Implementation of Public Health Policy in Southeast Asia”. Six presenters from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Southern Thailand  provided their insights on…

Continue ReadingCovid-19 Policies Impact Information Rights

“Infodemic” Infringes Right to Accurate Information

  • Post author:
  • Post category:News

Large amounts of false or misleading information related to the COVID-19 pandemic, referred to as an “infodemic”, and the attempts to combat it, have actually infringed on the right to accurate information. Additionally, framing the “infodemic” as purely citizen-induced, a premise that wholly excludes government accountability, further exacerbates the infringement.This critical point was articulated during the launch of “Infodemic and SDGs: Internet Freedoms in Southeast Asia”, an Asia Centre report in collaboration with the Thai Media Fund. The launch was the first of a two-part event, “Human Rights in the Time of COVID-19: Lessons Learned from Southeast Asia” held on…

Continue Reading“Infodemic” Infringes Right to Accurate Information

Asia Centre’s Human Rights Internship Programme

From 2016 to August 2021, Asia Centre’s Internship Programme has hosted 38 interns, with a 2:3 male to female ratio for a total of 155 months. The interns were either undergraduates or postgraduates enrolled at universities in Australia, East Africa, East Asia, Europe, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Southern Africa and the USA. Interns applying to Asia Centre begin the process by filling in the online Google application form on the website and attaching copies of a CV, an official letter of university enrollment and photo page of passport or ID (for Thai applicants only). Following a review of the submitted…

Continue ReadingAsia Centre’s Human Rights Internship Programme

Asia Centre and Destination Justice Sign MOU

Asia Centre and  Destination Justice signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 4 July 2021. This MoU marks the start of the organisations’ collaboration on Thailand related projects, starting in 2021 and builds on 5 year of prior cooperation on regional issues. On 28 July 2021, Asia Centre and Destination Justice, together with other partners filed a submission: “Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Peaceful Protests During Crisis Situations” to the Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Assembly and of Association. The submission draws attention to the protection of human rights activists and protesters in the context of crisis and emergency…

Continue ReadingAsia Centre and Destination Justice Sign MOU

Timor-Leste’s Problematic “Internet” Laws

Timor-Leste’s government must set out clearly defined steps in the drafting process of its legislation, including ensuring there are consistent and adequate opportunities for consultation with the country’s stakeholders. These concerns over inadequate consultation have arisen on the back of three proposed laws on defamation, cybercrime and privacy that stand to impact internet freedoms. The draft Criminal Defamation Law, proposed in June 2020, would reinstate criminal defamation in Timor-Leste’s Penal Code and provide an easy path to criminalise critical opinions against the state or its officials. The draft Cybercrime Law, proposed in January 2021, does not provide adequate protection to human…

Continue ReadingTimor-Leste’s Problematic “Internet” Laws

Securitisation of Health Protocols: Impact on Vulnerable Communities

In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments across the Asian region have adopted (exceptional) health protocols to contain and arrest the spread of infections, and are now focusing on acquiring vaccines and rolling vaccination programmes. Many of the measures adopted have been characterised by a securitisation of health protocols and have either failed to address the specific needs of vulnerable communities, or worsened their already precarious conditions. To facilitate discussions on these trends, and identify avenues for positive change, on 18 June 2021 Asia Centre, Harm Reduction International (HRI) and UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases (UNITE) co-hosted…

Continue ReadingSecuritisation of Health Protocols: Impact on Vulnerable Communities

Timor Leste Risks Downgrading Freedoms With New Laws

Amidst recent pushback to protect internet freedoms, it remains to be seen if Timor-Leste will retain its high rankings in “freedoms” in the long-term, as the country seeks membership in ASEAN, a grouping whose freedom rankings exhibit a sharp decline. While the country ranks highly in terms of academic and press freedom, with internet freedom likely to be on a similar upward trajectory, access to the internet and emerging laws present a challenge. These were the broad assertions made during an online town hall titled “Timor-Leste: Internet Freedoms Under Threat” held on 4 June 2021 by Asia Centre to share…

Continue ReadingTimor Leste Risks Downgrading Freedoms With New Laws

Freedom of Expression A Fundamental Right

Academic, press and internet freedoms are a cluster of rights that form freedom of expression. To realise these rights, one must have access to accurate information and be able to express an opinion across platforms of one’s choice. This is a fundamental right and we can not allow it to be diluted by authoritarian governments who are increasingly challenging the universality of rights. To unpack these issues, Asia Centre, together with the May 18 Memorial Foundation, co-convened a panel, “Freedom of Expression and Democracy in Asia”. The event was held as part of the Gwangju Democracy Forum, and was hosted…

Continue ReadingFreedom of Expression A Fundamental Right

Innovation Important to Overcome Media Hurdles

Media in the region are facing challenges both in terms of state censorship and financial sustainability. However, in almost all circumstances, innovation and improvisation were key to overcome these hurdles.“Celebrating Journalism: Reporting Without Fear” was held on 4 May 2021 to mark World Press Freedom Day. The event was organised in partnership with Asia Centre and Friedrich Naumann Foundation, with speakers from Internews, EFDEA and Taiwan Foundation for Democracy networks. The event was hosted online and live-streamed over social media (watch here). Frederic Spohr, Head of FNF Thailand and Myanmar, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, in his opening remarks stated that…

Continue ReadingInnovation Important to Overcome Media Hurdles

Academic Freedoms Deteriorate As Autocracy Strengthens in Asia

Academic freedoms in Asia have deteriorated as autocracy strengthens across the region. However, in building resilience and fostering change, academic, press and internet freedoms need to be considered together as they form a cluster of rights that collectively make up freedom of expression.  This was the thrust of the interventions by speakers from Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Indonesia on 21 April 2021 when Asia Centre hosted the webinar, “Under Attack: Academic Freedoms in Asia”.  The event, which attracted over 150 participants and live-streamed over social media (watch here), was co-hosted with Lund University’s Centre for East and South-East Asian…

Continue ReadingAcademic Freedoms Deteriorate As Autocracy Strengthens in Asia