Pillay: Online rights defenders need protection

Dec. 5, 2013 at 11:31 AM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Thursday from Switzerland protection for human rights defenders should be extended to the online arena.

Pillay delivered an address highlighting future issues in the area of human rights. With digital platforms transforming social and political interactions, she said any vision for the future needs to include the role of information technology.

"It is essential that the space for human rights defenders is doggedly defended, both online and offline," she said in her address.

Some governments in the Middle East and North Africa have prosecuted human rights defenders for comments they've made on social network platforms online.

Pillay said real-time communication and information-sharing was magnifying the voice of human rights defenders but also exposing them to potential danger.

"A Tweet or a Facebook post by a human rights defender can be enough to land him or her in jail," she said.

Some international media outlets dubbed the 2011 democratic upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa the "Twitter revolution" because of the widespread use of social media platforms during the protests.

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