Joint Submission on Freedom of Expression for Myanmar’s Second Universal Periodic Review
MCRB has joined 12 other organisations including Myanmar Digital Rights Forum partners Myanmar ICT Development Organisation (MIDO) and Free Expression Myanmar (FEM) in submitting a report to the UN Human Rights Council covering issues relating to freedom of expression, information and assembly in Myanmar, ahead of Myanmar’s second Universal Periodic Review. The Universal Periodic Review is a mechanism for all UN Member States to review one another’s human rights records. Each country’s record is reviewed approximately once every five years. Myanmar’s human rights record will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council at the 37th working group session, currently scheduled for early 2021.
The joint UPR submission recommends that Myanmar undertake comprehensive legal reform, halt the prosecution of those exercising their right to freedom of expression, adopt positive policy measures to combat ‘hate speech’, and lift the Internet shutdown in Rakhine and Chin States, among other actions. Weaknesses in Myanmar’s legal framework for freedom of expression were identified by MCRB in its 2015 Sector-Wide Impact Assessment (SWIA) on the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Sector in Myanmar.
Where national laws do not meet international human rights standards related to freedom of expression and privacy, responsible businesses, which are seeking to meet their ‘responsibility to respect’ human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, are placed in a difficult position. MCRB’s has recently worked with MDRF partners and businesses concerned to develop a collective action to reform Article 77 and other problematic articles in the 2013 Telecommunication Law which have been used to require companies to take down websites and block mobile data and the internet.