AU Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa Transmits Letter of Appeal to President of Chad on Social Media Blackout

Commissioner Lawrence Mute, AU Special Rapporteur on FOE and ATI in Africa

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) welcomes the appeal to President Idriss Deby Itno off the Republic of Chad by the African Union Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information in Africa (the Special Rapporteur), Commissioner Lawrence Mute, regarding the on-going social media blackout in the Central African country.

The appeal of the Special Rapporteur, Commissioner Lawrence Mute was contained in a press release issued on March 22, 2019 by the Special Rapporteur, exactly ten days after the African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) on behalf of 80 prominent press freedom organisations working across the globe, petitioned him to intervene in the situation in Chad.

The petitioners urged Commissioner Mute as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Prof. David Kaye to call on President Idriss Deby of Chad to restore access to social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter which have been shut down in the country following orders from the government on March 28, 2018.

Several calls by local and international rights groups appealing to the government of Chad to restore these platforms have proven futile over the past months. The petitioners therefore called on the AU/UN special rapporteurs to intervene in the matter.

AFEX commends the move by the AU Special Rapporteur as the African Commission’s commitment to advancing freedom of expression rights of citizens both offline and online.

We appeal to The Special Rapporteur to pursue this case to its logical conclusion by ensuring that the government of Chad ends the ongoing blackout and uphold the freedom of expression and access to information rights of the people of Chad at all times.