On 8 May, the Constitutional Council of Cameroon will begin hearing a case that challenges the government’s decision to shut the Internet down in the South West and North West of the country. The Internet was shut down on 18 January following protests against the arrest of civil society leaders resisting government efforts to impose the Francophone legal and education systems in these predominantly Anglophone regions.
The case that has been brought highlights that open and accessible internet communications are essential to ensuring the right to freedom of expression. Disruption of online services, whether through website blocking or internet shutdowns, amounts to a serious violation of that fundamental right. The government of Cameroon is obliged under domestic and international legal obligations to protect freedom of expression, including ensuring that it remains accessible and that people are able to use it freely and without interference.
On 20 April, hours after the constitutional challenge was filed by Veritas Law, with the assistance of Media Defence, at the Constitutional Council, the Internet was turned back on following an order by the President of Cameroon. The blackout lasted 93 days. Throughout the shutdown, the lives of the people living in the region were severely affected. In economic terms, the shutdown has been estimated by human rights organisations to have cost Cameroon around $1.4 million. The cost in social, cultural, health and educational terms has also been high. Even though the Internet has now been restored there is no guarantee the government will not shut it down again. The constitutional challenge was brought to compel the government to restore the Internet, and so that the Constitutional Council could prevent the government from shutting the internet down in the future.
Women journalists who inspire us
Threats and violence against women journalists endanger important democratic values, including freedom of expression and the right to information. Despite significant risks, women continue to investigate abuses of power—and we applaud those who are laying the groundwork for a better future. Whether covering instability wrought by war or how corruption impacts local farmers, every journalist […]
We’re recruiting: Legal Officer
About Media Defence Media Defence is a charity that helps media to defend their rights. We support independent media, journalists and citizen journalists who are under legal threat by making sure that lawyers are available to defend them. We engage in strategic litigation to improve the regulatory environment for media freedom, make grants to organisations […]
Les lois sur les “fake news” sont-elles le meilleur moyen de lutter contre la désinformation?
En décembre 2021, la Grèce a rejoint la liste croissante des pays qui légifèrent contre les “fausses nouvelles” (ou « fake news » en anglais). La modification du code pénal vise à poursuivre les citoyens grecs qui diffusent de fausses informations pendant la pandémie de COVID-19. Tout citoyen diffusant de fausses informations sur la santé publique risque […]