On June 25th 2020, the ECOWAS Court handed down an important decision for freedom of expression, digital rights, and press freedom, finding that Togo, by shutting down the Internet in 2017, violated the rights of the plaintiffs – seven Togolese NGOs and a journalist. The Court awarded damages to the plaintiffs, and ordered Togo to put in place a legal framework protecting freedom of expression that is consistent with international human rights law standards. The Court also ordered Togo not to shut the Internet down again.
Media Defence and Amnesty International represented the plaintiffs, who challenged the decision of the Togolese government to shut down the Internet for days at a time on two occasions in 2017. The shutdowns took place while protestors were calling for constitutional reforms. As well as shutting down the Internet, the state authorities responded using unnecessary and excessive force against the protests with the security forces firing live ammunition and using tear gas against protesters and bystanders. The plaintiffs set out in detail the severe and multi-varied impact the shutdown had on them including that they were unable to report on the protests in order to let people know what was happening. Internet shutdowns have become an increasingly popular method of suppressing dissent and containing protests, and this judgment represents an important step in pushing back against this phenomenon.
“This judgment should act as a warning to other governments considering using Internet shutdowns as a tool to silence dissent. Importantly, the Court has ruled not only that the shutdown was illegal, but that it should not be repeated”
Pádraig Hughes, Legal Director, Media Defence
For additional information, please contact Pádraig Hughes at email@example.com
For our press release, please click here.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and its coordinated fight against the use of Pegasus spyware
Welcome to the latest instalment of our Partners blog series. In this series, we interview our partners from around the world about their critical work in protecting freedom of expression. This time we spoke to Dalma Dojcsák, Executive Director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), about spyware. HCLU is one of Media Defence’s partner organisations. Founded […]
Learning Report 2022
Read our Learning Report 2022 Media Defence values the importance of learning and improvement. We undertake a variety of internal and external evaluations each year in order to understand the effectiveness and relevance of our programmes, ensuring that we learn from the experiences of the lawyers and journalists involved. We also do this to explore […]
Online threats, intimidation and judicial harassment against environmental journalist Alberto Castaño
Alberto Castaño is an environmental journalist supported by our partner Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP). FLIP is a non-governmental organisation that promotes press freedom in Colombia. It also oversees the rights of citizens to be informed. Since 1996, FLIP has assisted more than 2000 Colombian journalists at risk. As an environmental journalist working […]