NGOs Warn Govt of Internet Shutdown Ahead of Protests

No internet
A group of people accessing the Internet through smartphones.

Non-governmental Organisations came together to warn the government over shutting down the internet ahead of planned protests in the country.

In a statement issued on Monday, the twenty-seven organisations including Amnesty International and the Bloggers Association warned the government of any interruption of internet services stating that it would be a gross violation of human rights.

Within the statement, the organisations have also urged social media platforms to push back and resist government infiltration.

“Should the Government of Kenya attempt to block or restrict social and mass media during the #RejectFinance Bill2024 protests, we urge social media platforms to push back and uphold freedoms enshrined in Kenya's constitution and international human rights standards,” read the statement in part.

An image of a person unable to access the internet through a phone and a laptop
An image of a person unable to access the internet through a phone and a laptop

Further, the NGOs have warned that the censorship of hashtags or restricting access to social and mass media will be unlawful and counterproductive.  

“Shutting down or throttling the internet, shadow-banning hashtags or a mass media ban on live reporting would be a gross violation of fundamental human rights. It will undermine the legitimate rights of people to organize, demonstrate and participate in policymaking processes,” stated the NGOs.

Further, the organisations have requested the government and the Communications Authority to affirm that the internet will be accessible throughout the day.

The groups which include lawyers, creatives, doctors and human rights defenders have also stated that the internet shutdown pathway was a familiar pathway for governments to gag their citizenry.

“As documented in the ACCESS 2023 report, total or partial internet shutdowns are becoming familiar Government strategies for responding to public protest,” read the statement in part.

According to the NGOs, other governments have also shut down the internet to cover up grave violations of human rights, state-sanctioned violence against peaceful protestors, abductions and killings.

The statement comes at a time when there have been speculations that there would be internet disruptions in the country.

However, the government is yet to address the matter. 

Subsea internet cable system at the Red Sea.
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