ARTICLE 19 thanks the Special Rapporteur for his oral update. The Myanmar military continues to enforce its digital dictatorship to silence those who call for democracy and respect for human rights. This has only been intensified with an increasing amount of pro-military accounts being used to harass pro-democracy individuals online, including with threats of imprisonment and executions, particularly against women human rights defenders.
The Counterterrorism Law remains one of the primary threats to the country’s digital space, with scores of journalists and media workers, human rights defenders, and teachers and students arrested and convicted under this law in recent months; some received death sentences. Meanwhile, the draft Cybersecurity Law reveals the military’s intentions to criminalise the use of unauthorised virtual private networks (VPNs), which millions of individuals use to access information on websites banned by the military. We urge States dedicated to the right to freedom of expression and privacy to intensify their demands that the junta repeal repressive laws, and to urge the private sector to be compliant with international human rights standards.
On 20 June, the military announced that it would begin collecting biometric information in the populous Yangon Region despite a complete lack of privacy and data protection legislation. This also comes against a backdrop of the military rapidly expanding a network of CCTV cameras, equipped with invasive facial recognition technology. It is in this context that all States must uphold the Human Rights Council’s recent resolution on Myanmar and immediately halt the export, sale or transfer of surveillance goods and technologies to the country.
Finally, we call on States to provide sustained support to civil society in the country and those forced to flee, including by increasing financial and psychosocial assistance, and to the encourage the private sector to cooperate with civil society and respect human rights.