The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) is calling on the Government to with immediate effect restore internet services to promote the right to access to information and communication through social media platforms.
The Commission is deeply concerned that at a time when the general citizenry is relying on social media platforms to communicate and to access information relating to the electoral process, the internet seems to have been shut down, thereby depriving them of the right to information.
The apparent shut down of internet services is a breach of a constitutional right to freedom of expression and information because there is no legitimate existing circumstance that warrants the curtailing and/or limitations of the right to access information.
At worst, the act of shutting down the internet is undemocratic and reminiscent of repressive regimes that are against good governance principles of transparency and accountability and thrive on excluding the public from participating in critical governance matters.
Therefore, the Commission calls on the Government, through the respective agencies responsible for managing the local internet gateway, to unblock the internet and allow the use of applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook which are the major sources of information and means of communication by most citizens, particularly the youth.
The blocking of the internet service has the potential of creating suspicion, speculations and misinformation in the management of the election results and may result into anxiety and possibly violence.
It is, therefore, unnecessary to create tension at the time when the electoral process is coming to an end and the country is almost healing from political and electoral violence that had characterized the campaign period.
Mudford Z. Mwandenga
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION