This submission was produced in response to the call by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for input to a report on internet shutdowns and human rights that will be presented to the 50th session of the Human Rights Council in June 2022.
In August 2021, Zambia became the latest country to restrict citizens’ access to social media platforms as the country went to the polls. The disruption of digital communications has become a recurring theme in numerous countries during elections and in times of public protest.
In recognition of the 250 organisations in the #KeepItOn Coalition against internet shutdowns, we urge all states to immediately and unconditionally cease shutting down, throttling, or blocking the internet.
Disruptions to the internet and social media applications have emerged as a common and growing trend of digital repression, especially in authoritarian countries in Africa. Since 2019, numerous countries in the region have either restricted or fully blocked access to the internet.
The undersigned organisations call on the military to immediately respect the election results, return power to the elected parliament and government, unconditionally release all those detained, refrain from all acts of violence, and restore and maintain full internet connectivity.
This report outlines jurisprudence across the global South on the legality of internet shutdowns. It tackles the growing challenge of government-mandated disruptions of internet access around the world, often under the guise of safeguarding public order and upholding national security interests.
This year, governments in the Middle East and North Africa have continued to shut down and throttle the internet during grade and high school examinations. So far, governments in Jordan, Syria, Algeria, and Sudan have disrupted the internet during examinations.
Temporary internet disruptions and shutdowns pose serious challenges to the exercise of a wide range of rights and cannot be justified under any pretext. We therefore call on the Lebanese authorities to lift all restrictions on internet access and restore telecommunications to full capacity.
The repeated instances of internet shutdowns and degradation of network services are causing immense harm to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We urge the government of the Union Territory and associate government authorities to restore high speed internet access in the region.
APC joined with other civil society organisations to congratulate and welcome Irene Khan to her new role as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to highlight some broad priority themes that require particular attention.