On May 17, 2023, the interim government of Guinea ordered a fresh internet shutdown ahead of two days of anti-government protests. The move is likely intended to discourage the planned demonstration and make it difficult for citizens to share information on social media platforms.
This is not the first time that Guinea has experienced an internet shutdown. In 2020, the government restricted access to the Internet twice, in March and October. Both times, the shutdowns were met with widespread criticism from human rights groups.
The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) has condemned the Guinean government’s internet shutdowns, calling them “a serious violation of the right to freedom of expression.” The OHCHR has also warned that internet shutdowns can have a devastating impact on the economy, as they can disrupt businesses, prevent people from accessing essential services, and make it difficult for journalists to report on important events.
In addition to human rights and economic concerns, internet shutdowns can also harm public health. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, internet shutdowns have made it difficult for people to access information about the virus and get help if they are sick.The Guinean government has justified its internet shutdowns by claiming that they are necessary to maintain public order. However, there is no evidence to support this claim. Studies have shown that internet shutdowns can lead to an increase in violence.
The Guinean government’s internet shutdowns are a clear violation of human rights and a threat to the economy and public health. The international community must condemn these shutdowns and call on the Guinean government to restore internet access immediately.
In addition to the condemnation from the OHCHR, internet shutdowns in Guinea have also been criticized by the African Union, the United States, and the European Union. However, the Guinean government has so far refused to lift the internet shutdown.
The Internet is a vital tool for communication, education, and economic development. Internet shutdowns deprive people of these essential services and can have a devastating impact on society. The international community must continue to pressure the Guinean government to lift the internet shutdown and restore access to the internet for all citizens.
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