Two non-governmental organisations, Media Rights Agenda and the International Press Centre have threatened to drag the Federal Government to the African Union and United Nations if it doesn’t immediately rescind the ban placed on microblogging site, Twitter.
The groups stated that the action is an unjustifiable violation of the rights of all Nigerians to freedom of expression and access to information, noting that the action of the government violates the international and African charters the country was a party to.
They listed them to include the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights’ Resolution 362 on the Right to Freedom of Information and Expression on the Internet in Africa, adopted on November 4, 2016, at its 59th Ordinary Session; the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, adopted by the Commission in November 2019, at its 65th Ordinary Session; and recent UN Human Rights Council resolutions touching on the matter.
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This was contained in a joint statement signed by MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo; and the Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade.
The statement was titled, ‘MRA, IPC Condemn Federal Government’s Twitter Ban, Threaten to Lodge Complaints Before AU, UN Bodies’.
It reads in part, “In its Resolution 362 of 2016, the African Commission expressed concern at the practice by African States of “interrupting or limiting access to telecommunication services such as the Internet, social media and messaging services.
“Also the Declaration of Principles also provides in Principle 38 (1) and (2) that States shall not interfere with the right of individuals to seek, receive and impart information through any means of communication and digital technologies, through measures such as the removal, blocking or filtering of content, unless such interference is justifiable and compatible with international human rights law and standards and that States shall not engage in or condone any disruption of access to the internet and other digital technologies for segments of the public or an entire population.
“The UN Human Rights Council resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, adopted at its 38th Session in July 2018, asked “all States to address security concerns on the Internet in accordance with their international human rights obligations to ensure the protection of all human rights online, in particular freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of association, and privacy, including through democratic and transparent national institutions, based on the rule of law, in a way that ensures freedom and security on the Internet so that it can continue to be a vibrant force that generates economic, social and cultural development.
“Also, in its latest resolution related to the matter, which was adopted at its 45th Session in October 2020, the Council has also unequivocally condemned measures in violation of international human rights law aiming to or that intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online and offline, which undermine the work of journalists in informing the public, including through practices such as Internet shutdowns or measures to unlawfully or arbitrarily block or take down media websites, such as denial of service attacks and called on all States to cease and refrain from these measures, which cause irreparable harm to efforts at building inclusive and peaceful knowledge societies and democracies.
“The organizations called on the Federal Government to urgently take steps to comply with these internationally agreed norms and standards and retrace its steps from its current path, which puts Nigeria in danger of becoming a rogue nation that is constantly violating international human rights law as well as the principles of international law.”