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4 months ago

Government Shuts Down Internet for a Short Time in Benin

In light of the recently held Benin parliamentary elections, there has been huge rancor regarding the internet shutdown on the day of the election. The election was at the time taking place without opposing parties.


AIWA’s Researcher François Patuel in his report, said:

“The decision to shut down access to the Internet and social media on an election day is a blunt violation of the right to freedom of expression.

“It is effectively silencing human rights defenders, journalists, and bloggers who are monitoring contested parliamentary elections without opposition candidates.

“We call on the authorities of Benin to immediately lift all blanket restrictions on access to the internet and social media to enable people to freely express their opinions and report on any election-related matter.”

This highlights that the shutdown was without prior notice or reasonable explanations. It, therefore ‘shakes a table’, that the government, may have shut the internet down for selfish interests.

As the elections drew closer, there were rampant reports of an increase in the rate of arbitrary arrests of journalists and political activists. In sub-Saharan Africa, (including in Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Mali, and Zimbabwe), there has been a minimum of 5 Internet shutdowns since the beginning of 2019 in Documentation. The level of the crackdown on peaceful protests had reached an alarming rate as well. These and several other reasons seem to be a ploy in preparation for the big finish of shutting down the internet on the day of the election.

The internet is the largest community of people yet. It is an amplified avenue for the human rights of free expression. Protected under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which Benin is a party, the Internet shutdowns are clearly a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

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Credit - Techpoint Africa, Salem Solomon, AmnestyUk.

Anita O.

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