#KeepItOn during elections

Armenian law must prohibit internet shutdowns, not enshrine them

The government of Armenia must immediately scrap any attempt to legitimize internet shutdowns and attacks on freedom of expression and opinion in the country. Through an open letter, Access Now and civil society are demanding the proposed amendments to On the Legal Regime of Martial Law that jeopardize human rights do not go ahead.

The government of Armenia should be banning internet shutdowns, not encouraging their use by manipulating laws. It’s a lot more difficult to claw rights back than have them snatched away. We must not allow authorities the chance to oppress the population. Anastasiya Zhyrmont, Campaigner for Eastern Europe & Central Asia at Access Now

These proposed amendments and supplements to On the Legal Regime of Martial Law, submitted by the Armenian Ministry of Justice in December 2022, would grant the  government, under declaration of martial law, the power to restrict the right to freedom of expression and opinion through temporary blockings of websites, social media, internet applications, and through partial or complete internet shutdowns across the territory of the Republic of Armenia. 

These changes could also facilitate other abuses towards members of the media, including confiscating printing devices and other equipment, setting special rules for using communication devices, and a new procedure for accrediting journalists.

Internet shutdowns and targeted blockings add to crises. During conflict or turmoil, governments have a responsibility to ensure access to information and communication. What we’re witnessing in Armenia is the opposite. Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now

This attempt to restrict freedom of expression comes after censorship last year, around the time of the 13 September military escalation at the Azerbaijan-Armenia border, when authorities in both countries deliberately interfered with TikTok, making the popular app unavailable. The government of Armenia  also blocked several Azerbaijani media outlets in Armenia. 

Read the open letter.