“If not addressed in time and checked, the rising trend of internet censorship in East Africa will only deepen,” Mr Oundo cautioned.
The East African Law society (EALS) have accused the Ugandan government of shutting down internet access, including news sources and social media websites, for all their citizens on the day before the election taking place on 14th January 2021. The EALS states that this act is a violation of a citizen’s rights to access information, free speech and democracy. Similar cases have taken place in Tanzania and Burundi where citizen’s access to social media sites was barred before the countries’ 2020 general elections.
The EALS has filed a petition to the Arusha-based African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights against the Attorney General of Uganda and the Secretary General of the East African Community. This petition states that the Ugandan government violated the law and should compensate Ugandan business owners for any loss of earning because of this unlawful act.
Mr Bernard Oundo, the President of the EALS confirms that this measure is to ensure that there will be legal reforms put in place to ensure that this violation does not happen again. He is concerned that mass censorship may become a common trend in East African countries.