27 June 2019

Africa: ISPs Accused of Complicity in Internet Shutdowns

Accra — A pro-democracy organisation believes internet service providers (ISPs) are complicit in the violation of human rights in the African continent by beleaguered governments that are shutting down or disrupting the internet and social media platforms.

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) made the allegation as Sudan became the latest country to order a shutdown on these services following a deadlock on governance between civilians and the military after the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in April.

"AFEX has monitored with dismay how ISPs easily kowtow to government orders, often without any legal basis, to shut down the internet," the Ghanaian-headquartered AFEX stated.

The organisation said in numerous incidents, governments in respective countries sent direct orders to ISPs to switch off internet connection or disrupt social media networks.

"Sadly, all the ISPs in the respective countries complied with the governments' orders without insisting on due process. As a result, they have become complicit in the flagrant violation of the rights of their clients."

Several governments on the continent (Africa) have in recent years sought to quell sporadic unrests by shutting down or disrupting the Internet and social media platforms under the pretext of protecting "national security" and "public order."

This is despite the proven dire implications of such shutdowns on the social, economic and human rights of citizens.

Countries like Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo DRC), Liberia, Mauritania and Togo, among others, have all disrupted the internet in an attempt to suppress public protests.

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