Several civil society organizations (CSOs) are calling for “an open and secure internet” during the presidential election slated for Sunday, 24 February 2019.
The statement was issued on Thursday, 21 February 2019, by CSOs including the Council for Non-Governmental Development Support Organisations (CONGAD) and the African Engagement for the Defence of Human Rights (RADDHO).
“We urgently call on all stakeholders, including telephone and internet service providers, to ensure the stability and accessibility of the internet before, during and after the next presidential election in Senegal scheduled on 24 February, 2019,” the statement said.
In addition to CONGAD and Raddho, the Senegalese League of Human Rights (LSDH), the Association of Online Media Professionals (CALLl), Article 19, Africtivists and Civil Forum NGO signed the joint declaration.
According to these bodies, an open internet promotes “creativity, innovation, access to information and social, economic, cultural and political opportunities.”
Moreover, they stress the fact that “the technical means used to block access to online information often compromise the stability and resilience of the Internet.”
Noting that an open, accessible and secure internet, especially during elections, facilitates free movement and access to information and freedom of expression online and offline, they believe that “internet shutdown should never be normal.”
Therefore, they invite the Senegalese authorities to “publicly declare their commitment to keeping the internet open and to inform the public of any disruption and to ensure that the internet, including social media, remains active and accessible.”
In their document, the signatories denounced “the excessive control of the public media, the influence and indirect pressure exerted by the government and its allies on many traditional media, as well as the recent acts of violence against journalists.”