Amnesty says communication clampdown doesn’t meet international standards

SRINAGAR: Amnesty International (AI) on Saturday slammed the state and New Delhi for suspending phone and internet services in Kashmir, stating that it enabled range of human rights violations.
In a statement issued to media, the human rights body castigated the governments for suspending mobile and internet communication in Kashmir.
“Since 9 July, when widespread protests broke out in Kashmir following the killing of a Hizbul Mujahideen leader, private landline, mobile and internet service providers have suspended their services in large parts of Jammu and Kashmir on orders from state authorities. Only services provided by the state-run telecommunications company, BSNL, are functional in many areas,” said Zahoor Wani, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International India.
“One order issued by the Jammu and Kashmir police, which Amnesty International India accessed, referred to some of the restrictions as a preventive measure to avoid any law and order problems and passing of rumours by miscreants/anti national elements,” he said.
While authorities, he said, have a duty to protect the safety of people, they also have an obligation to respect and protect human rights.
“Blanket and indefinite suspensions of telecommunications services do not meet international human rights standards. These shutdowns affect the ability of phone and internet users in Kashmir to seek, receive, and impart information, which is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression,” Wani said. .
“The restrictions on access to telephones, in particular, jeopardize a range of other human rights as well, including the right to life.”