Internet Shutdown: Senegal’s Action Unacceptable

The recent shutdown of internet access by the government of Senegal constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of expression and press rights, and this is condemnable.

Development Diaries reports that mobile internet in the country was temporarily cut by the government following protests against President Macky Sall’s decision to postpone the presidential election.

We understand that the government of the West African country also shut down Walf TV’s broadcasting, along with the revocation of its licence to broadcast.

Internet shutdowns aimed at disrupting online gatherings and citizen mobilisation are common in Africa. President Sall must realise that by limiting digital and internet rights, press freedom is ultimately affected, posing a challenge to development communication, specifically, citizen participation in governance.

It also points to a larger problem: the disconnect and imbalance in the information flow from the government to the masses and vice versa. Because governmental messages are not effectively delivered to citizens, there is usually distrust and discontent, which mostly results in protests.

By the way, the right to freedom of expression is protected by Senegal’s constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Safeguarding freedom of expression and the press is essential for fostering a thriving democracy and promoting human rights in Senegal.

Denying or limiting internet access not only suppresses the voices of the people but also obstructs the free flow of information, hindering the country’s progress towards transparency, accountability, and democratic governance.

The Senegalese government must recognise that internet access is a fundamental right that underpins the foundations of democracy and human dignity.

We call on President Macky Sall to urgently reverse its decision and ensure citizens’ right to information is protected, just as we urge the government to encourage public participation in governance to stimulate effective policy formulation and service delivery.

Photo source: Cem Ozdel/Anadolu

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