Islamabad, Friday, April 24, 2015: This charter of demand has been prepared in response to the draft of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) 2015, approved by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology. The human rights concerns related to the approved draft of PECB have been well documented. The draft in its current form can easily be used to justify curbs on fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan including the right to freedom of expression, to the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, to freedom of association and assembly and to privacy, among others.
- Rejects the understanding of ‘security’ used in the preparation of this draft as security cannot only be seen in the context of national security. Security also means personal security and protection and enjoyment of human rights. Therefore, any legislation pertaining to national security must also safeguard human rights;
- Insists on focusing on human rights and citizens’ protection in the legislative process;
- Demands the review of the bill and in doing so, that necessary measures are taken to ensure human rights are protected not only in the content of the bill, but also in its implementation.
We are also mindful of the implications of enacting such a law while the Pakistan Protection Act and Fair Trial Act are in place, compromising citizen rights that are guaranteed in normal, peacetime situations. We are concerned that in the spirit of counter terrorism, the government has failed to ensure the protection of human rights within this draft. In the light of these concerns, we ask the government;
I. To redraft the bill with full consideration of the globally accepted human rights framework e.g. ICCPR (article 17, 18, 19 etc.) with the purpose of ensuring protection of fundamental rights, instead of compromising them through potential abuse, inherent in the current framing of the draft bill.
II. To ensure basic protections on the ground for citizens’ rights before enactment of this bill by;
Appointing and setting up a strong, independent and well-resourced Privacy Commission;
Extending the National Commission for Human Rights Act to include law enforcement institutions for better transparency and accountability.
III. To strengthen data protection clauses in the bill, ensuring citizens privacy and human rights based business environment with unfettered access to the cyberspace.
IV. To develop an action plan that ensures that the interpretations and implementation mechanism for the bill includes experts and expertise on digital rights. This should include resource allocation and planning for capacity building of judiciary, lawyers and law enforcement institutions including awareness raising of citizens.
We strongly urge the Standing Committees on Human Rights in the National Assembly and Senate to call for a review of the draft, before it is tabled in the House.
- Association for Progressive Communications
- Asian Forum for Human Rights & Development (Forum Asia)
- Digital Rights Foundation
- Internet Policy Observatory, Pakistan
- Reporters Without Borders
About Bytes for All, Pakistan
Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan is a human rights organization and a network of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals and practitioners. It experiments and organizes debate on the relevance of ICTs for sustainable development and strengthening social justice movements in the country. Its mission is “ICTs for development, democracy and social justice”. www.bytesforall.pk
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