Cutting off internet services in Sudan is an unjustified violation of the right to access information and freedom of expression
Stockholm- Skyline is thoroughly concerned over the blackout of communication and internet services in Sudan, prior to the demonstrations expected to take place today to demand civilian rule. It stresses that such practices violate freedom to publish and receive information guaranteed by international law.
Saturday, Skyline states that Sudanese authorities cut off the internet service of mobile phones in most parts of the country, hours before the start of the expected demonstrations announced by the "Freedom and Change" forces and the Resistance Committee Coordination. These demonstrations take place to reject the recently signed political agreement between Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok and the commander of the Sudanese army, "Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan".
"Skyline" states that the Sudanese Communications Authority did not issue any statement regarding blocking access to the internet service and websites, while some activists reported statements quoted by a source at the Informatics Prosecution, in which he said that the decision to block these sites was taken by a direct order from the Public Prosecutor for the Informatics
"Skyline" stresses that the decision to cut off the internet services has been remarkably repeated during the past few months, the last of which was last "October" and "June". That time, the owners of more than 15 websites in Sudan were surprised by blocking them from publication, confirming that they had received dozens of complaints since the date of last June 29 about the very slow pace of browsing, without finding an explanation for this technical error.
Skyline indicates that the shutdown included websites and pages affiliated with the regime of ousted President Omar al-Bashir, or those broadcast inaccurate news and attack Sudanese officials’ statements.
Moreover, Skyline points out that last October 25, Sudan has witnessed massive protests in response to taking exceptional measures, most notably: the imposition of a state of emergency and the dissolution of the Sovereignty Councils and the transitional ministers, after the arrest of party leaders and officials, which political and civil forces considered a “military coup". Last November 21, "Al-Burhan and Hamdok" signed a political agreement that includes the latter's return to his position, forming a government of competencies, releasing political detainees, and the two parties pledged to work together to complete the democratic path. However, this agreement was completely rejected by many Sudanese political and civil forces, considering that agreement an "attempt to legitimize the coup."
Skyline stresses that blocking media and electronic websites violates the international conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which stipulates in Article 19 that "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, , or through any other media of a person's choice. It also emphasizes the need to enable the demonstrators to express their views and demands without restriction or prosecution. It further warns of the threats issued by the security services after calls to demonstrate during this day.
Skyline concludes its statement by calling on the Sudanese authorities to clearly clarify the real reasons that led the shut down of Internet services and the blocking of dozens of websites and online platforms. In this regard, it calls the authorities to assume their responsibilities to provide the appropriate atmosphere for all individuals and gatherings to exercise their right to freedom of expression and publication. Furthermore, the authorities should stop evading their legal obligations to support the basic rights of individuals guaranteed by both international and Sudanese law.