30 October 2000

Alert

Restrictive Internet guidelines issued


Incident details

other


(CPJ/IFEX) - In a 27 October 2000 letter to President Khamtay Siphandone, CPJ expressed its deep concern over his government's efforts to restrict the exchange of news and information over the Internet.


A notice published in the 26 October edition of the "Vientiane Times", a government newspaper, warned people "not to use the Internet in the wrong way" and included a number of rules governing online content. The guidelines had been circulated a few days earlier by the Khao Sane Pathet Lao (KPL) news agency, which stated that those who disregard the rules "will be warned, educated, fined, expelled, or prosecuted according to the law," as reported by The Associated Press.


The new guidelines were issued by the government's National Internet Management Committee. They include a ban on using the Internet for "propagating misleading news stories to create ... doubts among the public, at home or abroad." The vague wording of the rules makes them particularly prone to abuse by officials seeking to suppress news that might embarrass the government, which already exerts tight control over print and broadcast media.

Recommended Action


Send appeals to the president:

- reminding him that Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights grants all people the right to circulate information freely "through any media and regardless of
frontiers"

- urging His Excellency to ensure that the Internet in Laos remains free
of government monitoring and interference

- calling for the withdrawal of the pernicious Internet guidelines as a critical first step toward improving the climate for free expression in the country



Appeals To


APPEALS TO:

His Excellency Khamtay Siphandone
President, Lao People's Democratic Republic
Office of the President
Samsantay Road
Vientiane, Laos
Fax: +856 21 22 36 38

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.









Source

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
USA
info (@) cpj.org
Fax:+1 212 4659568
Laos
 
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