South Africa: International Right to Know Day Statement - No to Internet Shutdowns #keepiton!

27 September 2018
press release

Tomorrow, 28 September 2018, the Right2Know Campaign in solidarity with the people of Southern Cameroons (represented by the Sam Soya Center for Democracy & Human Rights (SSCDHR) will picket at the Pan African Parliament in Midrand to mark the International Right to Know Day.

The International Right to Know Day (commonly referred to as the Universal Access to Information Day) is an international day of recognition designated by the UNESCO General Conference in November 2015. This year's commemoration marks the second anniversary of the International Right to Know Day. The Right2Know Campaign will mark the occasion under the theme: Universal Access to Information for all: no to internet shutdowns #KEEPITON!

According to Access Now, internet shutdowns have increased from 75 in 2016 to 108 in 2017 - and this number is only increasing as of June 2018, already 108 internet shutdowns have been documented. The countries with the most documented shutdowns are India, Pakistan, Syria, North Korea, Iraq, Brazil, Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Vietnam and the D. R. Congo. While internet shutdown is a global phenomenon, current trends indicate that India and Pakistan lead with the most documented shutdowns, followed by Middle East and North Africa and the Sub-Saharan regions.

Of key concern to R2K are the shutdowns in the Southern Cameroons, as the Republic of Cameroon is scheduled to hold elections on October 2018. Between January 2017 and March 2018, there have been 230 days of shutdown in Anglophone regions of Cameroon. There are growing concerns that the government will seek to hide its genocidal atrocities on unarmed civilians in Southern Cameroons to the rest of the world as well as influence the outcome of the elections by prejudicing the English-speaking region by denying them access to information through internet shutdowns in the pre-electoral, electoral, and post-electoral periods.

R2K joins other movements and organizations who are party to the Yaounde Declaration, and thus endorses the following:

Emphasizing that access to information is the life-blood of a democratic society, and crucially important before, during and after election

Noting the importance of social networks and the internet in general as platforms for disseminating and receiving information and public debates

We are therefore concerned by previous cases of network disruptions and internet shutdowns especially in African countries. Thus we urge the Pan African Parliament and all states that are affected by internet shutdowns to:

Implement the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 38/7 adopted in July 2018 on the "promotion, protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet"

Publicly commit to abide by the African Commission on Human and People's Rights Resolution 362(LIX) 2016 on the "right to freedom of information and expression on the Internet in Africa"

Respect the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms

Respect its commitments to protect and promote freedom of association, access to information and freedom of expression, as well as the human right to privacy, online and offline, especially during elections

Promote and facilitate unfettered access to the Internet to ensure development and fundamental freedoms

Internet shutdowns violate basic tenets of human rights and international law. They are not only illegal, but are also not a proportionate response to lawful citizen demands for democracy.

We will also host a cultural evening to discuss the internet shutdowns around Africa and touch on the control of access to information and repression. The event will be attended by comrades from South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Picket details:

Venue: Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand

Time: 9 -11AM

Cultural event:

Venue: 87 De Korte Street,

2nd floor Heerengracht Building, Braamfontein

Time: 4 -7PM

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