The Geneva Council strongly condemns the 100-day-long internet shutdown in Manipur, India. This alarming and extended restriction on internet access not only infringes upon the fundamental rights of Manipur’s citizens but also obstructs the flow of information, accountability, and progress within the state.
The Geneva Council is deeply concerned about the adverse impact of this ongoing internet shutdown on the residents of Manipur. It is our firm belief that the right to access information and communicate freely is a cornerstone of any democratic society. The shutdown not only hampers individuals’ ability to stay informed but also disrupts crucial services such as healthcare, education, banking, and employment opportunities. Additionally, it impedes access to government welfare schemes that rely on internet connectivity.
The suspension of internet services, which commenced on May 3, 2023, and was partially lifted on July 25, 2023, disproportionately affects the population, with only a small portion benefiting from the limited restoration. This partial reinstatement, coupled with stringent conditions and continued suspension of mobile data services, exacerbates the challenges faced by the people of Manipur.
The Geneva Council underscores that the indefinite nature of the suspension, in violation of established legal principles, raises serious concerns about the rule of law. Rule 2(2A) of the Telecom Suspension, 2017, as amended in 2020, clearly stipulates that any restrictions on internet services must be temporally and geographically limited. The absence of a defined end date contradicts this requirement and underscores the need for urgent reconsideration.
Furthermore, we emphasize that the internet shutdown perpetuates misinformation and curtails the ability of individuals to independently verify the information they receive. Such a scenario undermines transparency, accountability, and the democratic principles that are essential for a just and equitable society.
The Geneva Council calls upon the government of India and the state authorities in Manipur to respect the fundamental rights of their citizens and immediately lift the internet shutdown. We urge them to adhere to international standards and domestic legal frameworks that protect freedom of expression, access to information, and the right to communicate.
In these challenging times, The Geneva Council stands in solidarity with the people of Manipur and reaffirms its commitment to advocating for human rights, transparency, and accountable governance across the globe. We believe that the unfettered access to information and communication technologies is a vital catalyst for social progress, development, and a thriving democracy.