“Matuwid na Daan” gone astray… Cybercrime law affront to Human Rights
Jose W. Diokno said it well: Human rights are not mere legal concepts they are part of the human essence. Their violation is not the mere taking away of a man has. It is taking away of what a man is.
It is a pleasant thought but one that gets to be pondered only on occasions such as the Human Rights Day. The celebration of Human Rights Day today is cast against the background of more threatening concerns generated by P-Noy’s “Matuwid na Daan” which gone astray as well as that of the administration’s penchant on attacking civil liberty like the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act No. 10175. Thus this occasion however speaks of a terrible irony we have in our midst. As we celebrate Human Rights Day, lest we forget in the flurry of praying, candle lighting and speeches, is the danger posed by the Cybercrime Law to our civil liberties and to enjoyment of our human rights.
While the Cybercrime Law is designed to go after online crimes, “the provisions of the law that extend to libel and ‘other offenses’ violate established global norms of free expression.” The Philippines’ existing libel law is vague, criminalizing any speech deemed ‘critical,’ including information criticizing the government or other authorities.”
The right to information opens the door to all other human rights, as the core principles of human rights are interdependent and indivisible. Internet has become a vital communications tool which individuals can use to exercise their right to freedom of expression and, exchange information and ideas. Indeed, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a landmark resolution in June 2012 supporting freedom of expression on the Internet.
We at the HRonlinePH use the Internet as viable platform in the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines. We recognized that freedom of expression can be restricted in very exceptional cases like expression such as child pornography, violence against women, incitement to genocide, discrimination, hostility or violence and incitement to terrorism are all prohibited under international laws and statutes.
Some governments are using increasing sophisticated technologies which are often hidden from the public censor online content and monitor and identify individuals who disseminate critical information about the government, which more often than not lead to arbitrary arrests and detention of individuals. But the attempt to restrict Internet freedom must be in accordance with international human rights standards and must pursue legitimate grounds for restriction as set out in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and “be proven to be necessary and proportionate.”
We should amplify our voice and increase our ranks in putting the Cybercrime Law back from the brink. The government should instead enact laws to protect human rights and to end impunity like the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law, the Freedom of Information Act and the bill providing compensation to victims of human rights violations under Marcos regime.
We call on the Filipinos to stand up and defend our Right to Freedom of Expression, our Human Rights.