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Chadian lawyers challenge ongoing social media shutdown

Chadian lawyers challenge ongoing social media shutdown

Chad

Lawyers in Chad have petitioned court to order the leading telecommunications companies to restore access to social media platforms, which was revoked in March this year.

A social media shutdown that has prevented Chadians from accessing apps including Whats App, Messenger, Facebook, Viber and Twitter.

Maitre Frédéric Daïnonet, president of the lawyers collective that filed the complaint Saturday, told BBC the ongoing blackout violates consumers’ rights.

While no reason was given for the shutdown, it was imposed after a controversial national conference which recommended changes to the constitution which would allow President Idriss Deby to remain in power until 2033.

President Deby has been in power since 1990.

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Amnesty Internet urges gov’t to restore access

Last month, Amnesty International urged the government to ‘restore immediate access to all blocked internet sites’.

Amnesty at the time published report titled ‘Falling Budgets, Rising Repression’, which sought to highlight the link between austerity measures and repression of freedoms of expression and assembly.

The report said an employee of Airtel, a private telecommunications company, confirmed that ‘restrictions on access to WhatsApp and Facebook were ordered by Chadian authorities, contrary to government claims that it was most likely a technical problem’.

Access to social media was also suspended in Chad for nearly six months during the the April 2016 presidential election. The government blamed that outage on technical problems.

Some users in Chad have been able to access social media networks via Virtual Private Networks, (VPN), which translates into higher costs of internet connection. Mobile data is already pricey in Chad, with 1 GB costing $21 (£16).

A court in N’Djamena is expected to begin hearing on the matter on 28 August.

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