Amnesty International India (AII) on Thursday urged the Centre to immediately restore high-speed 4G internet services in Jammu and Kashmir to help people in preparing against the spread of coronavirus.
AII executive director Avinash Kumar, in a statement, said the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving and to ensure its full communication to the people of J and K the Centre must urgently lift internet restrictions in the region and ensure real-time preparedness of the people against the spread of the virus.
“The responses to coronavirus cannot be based on human rights violations and a lack of transparency and censorship,” the statement said.
It said that despite four positive cases of coronavirus being confirmed in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the government has ordered the continued restrictions on full internet services such as restricting the speed to 2G in the region.
“Complete internet shutdowns have also been imposed intermittently in certain areas in the guise of security. There is growing anxiety around the pandemic and unwarranted restrictions on content and dissemination of information only stand to add to the panic. Complete shutdowns or restricting of internet speed or access makes it difficult for people to navigate their way through a difficult time further undermining their trust in the authorities,” the statement said.
The Centre needs to adopt a “rights-respecting” approach to protect public health and restore access to 4G speed internet, Kumar said.
Human rights approach must be at the centre of all prevention, preparedness, containment, and treatment efforts to protect public health and support the most vulnerable groups, he said, adding that the right to health as guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides for the right to access healthcare.