BRUSSELS, Sept 27 (KUNA) — The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Friday condemned the fact that more than 30 countries have been guilty of closing media or blocking internet access so far in 2019, threatening citizens’ fundamental right to free access to information.
The IFJ condemnation came ahead of the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) on 28 September.
Established in 2015 by the UNESCO, the IDUI highlights the importance for citizens to have free access to information in democratic systems.
While most of the shutdowns occurred in Asian and African countries, governments from all over the world are adding to the trend of controlling citizens’ media and internet access, noted IFJ in a press release.
In Europe, eight countries including Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Malta, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine blocked media or internet success until September 2019.
In the Arab world, three countries, Algeria, Egypt and Iraq cut the internet or closed media outlets arbitrarily.
In the Asia-Pacific region, in addition to India, countries like Myanmar, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan cut the internet or closed media outlets arbitrarily.
The cut of internet and shutdown of critical media is also a widespread practice in Africa, where up to 10 countries imposed internet access blockades including Sudan and Somalia.
In the Latin American region, Venezuela imposed several internet shutdowns and restrictions during the first months of the year.
In this region the closure of media was due to economic pressure from governments, especially in Guatemala and Honduras, noted IFJ.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, commented, “We are witnessing how governments use excuses of all kinds to prevent citizens’ free access to information.”
“We want to condemn those governments who block the free access to information and internet and call on them to adopt information laws that guarantee and protect this access. This is a non-negotiable right in any democratic system”, he said.