Islamabad, November 05, 2013: We are very pleased to announce the Asia Regional Consultation on “Freedom of Expression for Civil Liberties”, to be held in Bangkok, Thailand on 21, 22 and 23 of November, 2013. The event is being organized by Instituto Demos in collaboration with Bytes for All, ICT Watch, Global Partners Digital and Association for Progressive Communications with local hosts Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and Southeast Asian Press Alliance.
Freedom of expression is a foundational human right – with freedom of expression we exercise our human need to communicate, we engage in democracy and we are empowered to demand all of our human rights. The Internet is having a tremendous impact on freedom of expression across the world, offering tremendous and new opportunities for expanding notions and practices of freedom of expression and access to information. But it is a highly complex, and fast-changing, environment. We are witnessing growing threats from governments and businesses to exercise greater control of the Internet, including, most recently, through extensive surveillance mechanisms.
The main objectives of this event are:
- To explore the most urgent opportunities and challenges facing freedom of expression in Asia today.
- To introduce the concept of political-electoral communication and collect regional recommendations for the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression´s report to be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2014.
- To assess the current state of digital surveillance across the region, and explore the opportunities and challenges for promoting the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteurs Report on Surveillance and Freedom of Expression.
- To establish how the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteurs Report on Access to the Internet have or have not been implemented across the region and policies for promoting internet access.
- To bring civil society groups from across Asia together to develop strategies for working as a regional group with shared goals
The Regional Consultation on Freedom of Expression for Civil Liberties will focus on three broad issues within this complex and fast-changing landscape: access to the internet, surveillance on the internet, and political-electoral communication, both online and offline. The event will focus the UN Special Rapporteur reports on freedom of expression exercised through the internet and on States’ surveillance of communications ; and will feed in to his upcoming report on political expression.
In an effort to develop an Asia-wide civil society movement for the protection of freedom of expression on the Internet, participants are invited from India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Singapore, Cambodia, Philippines, Timor Leste, Laos, Vietnam, Maldives, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Japan.