Cybersecurity in the Mekong Region: An Analysis of the Legal Framework and Recommendations for the Protection of Indigenous Environmental Human Rights Defenders

The report is part of “Defending the Defenders: Indigenous Environment Human Rights Defenders (IEHRDs)” project of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) managed by the Environment Programme of AIPP. It aims to review the existing legal frameworks regulating cyber security and its applications in the Mekong countries with special focus on IEHRDs; to identify specific risks, legal frameworks regulating cyber security in these countries may pose to IEHRDs, and to develop practical recommendations for the IEHRDs to mitigate cybersecurity risks, while ensuring and exercising their right to freedom of expression.

While the principal objective of the publication is to raise awareness and build capacity of Indigenous Peoples, it could also be useful for advocacy work at different levels. While the particular focus of the report is on human and environmental rights defenders belonging to Indigenous groups, it also covers non-indigenous environmental rights defenders in the Mekong countries – Cambodia, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam.

The methodology used for this report includes desk research for all the country chapters, including a systematic literature review of relevant laws and government regulations, reports and observations/recommendations of United Nations (UN) human rights bodies and NGOs, news reports, expert papers and other publications. Primary data, including testimonies and cases of IEHRDs facing challenges to their cybersecurity, were collected from the activities organized by the AIPP and the Manushya Foundation. For example, AIPP organized a regional exchange and training on digital security from 30 September to 2 October 2020, where IEHRDs from ten countries participated and shared their experiences with online interferences, including threats, prosecution, hacking and internet shutdown, in relation to their work on Indigenous rights. Interviews and consultations with IEHRDs were undertaken at local and national levels for the country chapters on Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam that the Manushya Foundation prepared.

However, for the Myanmar chapter prepared by the Open Development Initiative, key informant interviews with Indigenous Peoples’ representatives could not be undertaken due to the current unsafe political situation in the country following the February 2021 coup. An external consultant was commissioned to review the country chapters, make additional analysis as needed and consolidated the regional analysis into a final report.

The production of this book would not have been possible without the generous financial support and cooperation of the Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI).

For more information, please contact the following team members of the Environment Programme:

Click here to download the publication.

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