Geneva, 1st/July/2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council has unanimous condemned Internet shutdowns which occurred in Uganda during 2016 general elections and with effect renewed 2012 and 2014 resolutions that declared, unequivocally that human rights apply online just as they do offline.
The UN resolution emanates from a draft resolution to the council fronted by 90 organizations from 41 countries including Uganda’s Unwanted Witness under #KeepitOn campaign. The campaign intended to push back on internet shutdowns at all levels globally.
“As a signatory to the resolution, we applaud the UN Human Rights Council for responding to our pertinent concerns. The recent internet shutdown in Uganda did not only fail to follow the due process but fundamental freedoms of Ugandans that use the internet were trumped on,” said Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Chief Executive Officer, the Unwanted Witness Uganda.
He added that although article 29 (1) of the 1995 Uganda constitution protects citizens’ right to freedom of speech, opinion, thoughts and expression, government of Uganda has continued to violate this right with impunity.
Ugandans first experienced countrywide internet shutdown during 2016 general elections for a period of 6 days from 17th to 22nd February 2016, while the second shutdown occurred between 11th to 14th 2016 during the inauguration of president Yoweri Museveni for 5th term in office.
“Shutdowns harm everyone and allow human rights crackdowns to happen in the dark, with impunity. Citizens can not participate fully in democratic discourse during elections. The Human Rights Council’s principled stance is a crucial step in telling the world that shutdowns need to stop,” said Deji Olukotun, senior Global Advocacy Manager at Access Now.
Besides Uganda, internet shutdown has also been experienced in countries like Algeria, Turkey and Bahrain among others. According to Access Now, 20 internet shutdowns have been recorded in the first half of 2016.