Turkey among initiators of significant UN resolution on Internet and human rights
Emine Kart ANKARATurkey and other nations submitted a significant resolution on “the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet” that was adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) on July 1.
The resolution on “the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet” was a joint initiative of Brazil, Nigeria, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United States.
The resolution reaffirms that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online.”
Though the resolution was adopted by consensus, it faced opposition from a minority of states.
Russia and China led amendments to the resolution aimed to delete calls for states to adopt a “human rights-based approach” for providing and expanding access to the Internet, and remove key references to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and language on freedom of expression from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
ARTICLE 19, a London-based free speech and human rights organization, was among more than 80 civil society organizations which joined in calling for the adoption of a strong resolution by consensus.
‘Should be understood as a clear commitment’
“We would certainly welcome the role of Turkey in setting a strong international standard on this at the United Nations. It should be understood as a clear commitment to protect freedom of expression at home and acted upon by all states, including Turkey,” Andrew Smith, a legal officer at ARTICLE 19, told the Hürriyet Daily News on July 2.
Taking its name from Article 19 of the UDHR, ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organization that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of information.
Turkey’s role as one of the joint initiators of such a significant and globally applauded resolution comes to the fore at a time when unconfirmed reports by watchdog groups have said Twitter and Facebook were inaccessible inside the country after a coordinated suicide attack on Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport on June 28 left scores and many more wounded.
At least 45 people, including 19 foreign nationals, were killed and 239 others were injured when jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacked Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport late on June 28, opening fire before detonating themselves.
Less than an hour after the coordinated suicide attack, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government issued a gag order for the country’s media outlets. Less than an hour later, watchdog groups reported Twitter and Facebook were inaccessible inside the country, Vocativ reported on June 28.
“The order, issued by the Turkish Prime Minister’s Office on the grounds of ‘national security and public order,’ bans the sharing of any visuals of the moment of explosion, blast scene, emergency work, of the wounded and dead, or any ‘exaggerated narrative’ about the scene. It also bans the act of sharing any information about the suspects,” said Vocativ, a media and technology company, using proprietary data-mining technology to explore the deep web in order to discover stories and generate original content.
According to Vocativ, in the last five years, the Turkish government has issued more than 150 gag orders on subjects ranging from “government corruption to natural disasters.”