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United Nations warns Asia-Pacific governments of censorship

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                A man, wearing protective face masks as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, waits in a bus line in Quito, Ecuador, today. After 80 days of an almost complete shutdown, the capital city lowers its warning alert from red to yellow allowing for the freer movement of people and the opening of many businesses.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A man, wearing protective face masks as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, waits in a bus line in Quito, Ecuador, today. After 80 days of an almost complete shutdown, the capital city lowers its warning alert from red to yellow allowing for the freer movement of people and the opening of many businesses.

GENEVA >> The top U.N. human rights official is urging some Asia-Pacific governments to be proportionate in their efforts to stop the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak and warning of a “clampdown” against freedom of expression in the region.

The office of Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, cited a “further tightening of censorship in several countries” and the arbitrary arrest and detention of people who had either criticized their governments or shared information about the pandemic.

Her office said arrests for expressing discontent or allegedly spreading false information had been reported in a dozen countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

It cited information from China about more than a dozen cases of medical workers, academics and other citizens who “appear to have been detained, and in some cases charged” for publishing their views on the outbreak or airing criticism of the government’s response.

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