… amid political unrest
This follows multiple breaches of Senegalese citizens’ digital rights and data privacy in the past few months, the latest being on June 1st, 2023.
PIN’s statement on Friday reads:
“As a Pan-African organisation, we are pained to see the degradation of democracy and human rights in countries that are deemed role models in terms of peacebuilding and political justice on the continent. It is our hope that the Senegalese institutions and civil society will act to restore the rights of the citizens to use the Internet for the best.
“Among the incidents we can cite are: the interruption of Telegram, Twitter and other social media platforms, the use of data by the police from unofficial sources (such as Anita TV) endangering the lives of targeted individuals and media censorship of Walf TV’s transmission.
“As much as many think this is only a political issue, it is more of a human rights issue. Unlawful arrests of young people and political opponents constitute human rights violations.
“Senegal, while having kept a reputation of being one of the most stable democracies in West Africa, has been experiencing a longstanding series of human rights violations in recent years.
“In 2021, following protests, social media platforms were blocked for many hours. Multiple networks detected internet disruptions and a social media blackout.
“Youths have increasingly used social media platforms to voice their concerns and call for justice in the country. Social media is seen as a tool for dissent and a threat to the integrity of government institutions.
“Ahead of the 2024 presidential elections, multiple riots and civil unrest instances have been noted, more so in the past two years. Social media has played a huge role in transmitting information, given that main television and radio channels have not been adequately reporting events and news due to fear of their activities being suspended.
Deliberate internet outages around the world cost the global economy billions of dollars every year. Government Internet shutdowns have cost USD 42.5 billion since 2019.
Paradigm Initiative is further calling on the Senegalese government to do the following:
- Immediately put a stop to the transmission of false information and promotion of violence by government and opposition loyalists.
- Ensure media and journalists’ digital safety and security in reporting unbiased news about current events in Senegal.
- Promote freedom of expression by releasing youths that were unlawfully jailed on the basis of sharing information that has not been proven to be disinformation or misinformation under a due process of law.
- Create a committee composed of government officials and civil society to ensure these disruptions do not happen again during elections.
- Order that network providers offer a seamless internet connection to the citizens.