Editorial and commentary

NO TO BLANKET BLAME GAME

With Odongo Odoyo

On several occasions it has been like a blanket blame game against security organs. The truth is that, there are some members of the security who are yet to fully understand the role the media is playing in the development and growth of various sectors. This is not restricted but includes educating, informing and entertaining the general public. My take is that without the media the world would remain in the dark (opaque) forever. Nobody would be able to know what is happening in other parts of the world. But this is not to say the media outlets should be used to divide people or the country. In fact and in all fairness, the media should preach peace, but should equally remain independent without being seen to be supporting certain cliques or section of the society. That is fair-play not sycophancy. What would be the media war that is going on in Chad I am tempted to ask this question since l need to understand how possible for this to happen in a so called civilized society. I did bump into the following text which is worth sharing.

“Eighty Press Freedom Organizations across the Globe Call on AU/UN Special Rapporteurs to Intervene in Ongoing Social Media Blackout in Chad

“Eighty freedoms of expression and media rights organizations across the world have called on the African Union (AU) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information and the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression to intervene to end the long-running social media blackout in Chad.In a petition signed on Tuesday March 12, 2019, the press freedom organizations said since March 28, 2018, mobile operators in Chad have, on the orders of the government, blocked access to social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.

The petitioners alleged that the shutdown is aimed at quelling public protests across the country by undermining citizens’ capacity to mobilise through the power of the Internet and social media platforms, which is in breach of Chadians’ freedom of expression online and the right to access information.

The 80 signatories to the petition noted that the social media shutdown in Chad, which is now the longest network disruption in Africa, violates several resolutions including the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) Resolution, ACHPR Res. 362 (LIX) 2016 which condemns the “emerging practice of State Parties interrupting or limiting access to telecommunication services such as the internet, social media and messaging services.”

The petitioners lamented that  while the eleven month-old social media blackout has grounded the activities of students, schools and businesses that rely on the internet, the government of President Idriss Deby has refused to heed several calls to end the shutdown.

“Repeated appeals by local, regional and international human rights groups on the Idriss Deby-led administration to restore access to social media platforms have proved futile”, the petitioners said.

They therefore called on the African Union’s (AU) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Lawrence Murugu Mute and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye to intervene to ensure that access to social media is restored in Chad. Kindly click on the hyperlinks to access the petitions addressed to the AU Special Rapporteur, Commission Mute and the UN Special Rapporteur, David Kaye respectively. “

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