Internet silence in Democratic Republic of Congo

A UN expert called Jan. 7 for the restoration of telecommunication services in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The internet continues to be shut down across the DRC in the wake of the Dec. 30 general elections. Authorities ordered closure of Internet and SMS services the day after the vote due to "fictitious results" circulating on social media. The results of the election have now been postponed and the shutdown extends past its original Jan. 6 end date. On that day, the head of the elections commission stated that just over half of the ballots have been counted. Both the opposition and ruling coalition said they were on track to win the election. Many citizens were not able to vote due to an Ebola outbreak, and the delay led to protests in the east of the country. The opposition has alleged irregularities and fraud, and there have been reports of militias forcing voters to vote for the ruling coalition. The election commission dismissed any problems as minor.

Disputed results in 2006 and 2011 have caused violence throughout the country. The country has not not undergone a peaceful transition of power since 1960 when it gained independence from Belgium.

David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, said, "A general network shutdown is in clear violation of international law and cannot be justified by any means." A 2016 Human Rights Council Resolution condemned measures to intentionally disrupt the online dissemination of information as a violation of international law.

From Jurist, Jan. 9. Used with permissin.

Photo via SoftPower

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