13 June 2019

Sudan Joins Infamous Countries Ordering Internet Shutdowns

Khartoum — THE Sudanese military government is the latest beleaguered administration to cut off internet access during times of political sensitivity and crisis.

Disruptions to access have escalated over the past week and the country is now almost entirely cut off from the internet, after forces violently attacked and dispersed protesters.

Human rights groups have denounced the internet shutdown as a gross violation of human rights and demanded that it should be lifted immediately.

Before the current shutdowns, Sudan's government had blocked access to social media platforms - including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the messaging service WhatsApp - intermittently between December 2018 and April 2019.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was vital for emergency communications, including information from health care providers, and to access other basic information in times of crisis.

"These shutdowns blatantly repress the rights of the people the military council claims it wants to have a dialogue with," said Priyanka Motaparthy, acting emergencies director at HRW.

Shamseddin Kabashy, the spokesperson for the military council, confirmed to media that the council had ordered the shutdown.

"We stopped internet services for a limited period, at our discretion," he said.

Internet shutdowns have mushroomed in Africa over recent months.

Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe are among other countries to implement these shutdowns following uprisings by locals over service delivery protests.

The United Nations has denounced such shutdowns as violating multiple rights, including freedom of expression, information and free assembly.

"Shutdowns are damaging not only for people's access to information, but also for their access to basic services," said David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur.

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