A coalition of some 35 civil society organisations has written to several international bodies including the African Union and the United Nations Human Rights Council over the recent internet shutdown in Togo. Signatories to the letter include Paradigm Initiative, Reporters Without Borders, World Wide Web Foundation, Access Now, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ghanaian Centre of PEN International, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), and APC members Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Fantsuam Foundation, and Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet).
The Coalition calls on the international bodies “to bring a halt to the spate of Internet shutdowns in Africa and to publicly declare your commitment to this effort. Also, we urge that as the political situation in Togo unfolds in the coming days and weeks, Your Excellencies use your offices to ensure that the Internet and Telecommunication services are kept on.”
It should be recalled that the Togolese government shut down mobile internet services in the country for six days earlier this month. This shutdown was in response to a wave of protests in Togo against the ruling government. The shutdown was a blow not only to citizens exercising their right to protest but to others who use various internet services in their businesses. This shutdown, however, was met with wide condemnation from internet freedom groups across the globe and the government grudgingly restored services after six days of blackout.
This explains why the coalition has written to international bodies to wade in and ensure internet shutdowns in Africa become a thing of the past.