Senegal Internet Shutdowns

#KeepItOn: Senegalese authorities must immediately reinstate mobile internet access to all

Update — February 13, 2024: Senegalese President Macky must restore internet access for all. Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition unequivocally condemn the government of Senegal’s decision to again suspend access to mobile internet across the country amid escalating protests. The Ministry of Communications, Telecommunications, and Digital Economy announced that access to mobile internet has been blocked to “prevent the spread of hateful and subversive messages on social media,” as people protest the postponement of elections originally scheduled for February 25. This is the second time in eight days since the Senegalese authorities have arbitrarily implemented shutdowns to quell protests and cover up its crackdown on dissenting voices in the country. On February 4, authorities shutdown mobile internet access for three days. Access was restored on February 7, 2024.

Internet shutdowns must not be used in response to national crises, authorities must instead tackle the root causes of civil unrest.  

Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition denounce the ongoing internet shutdown in Senegal. In a move that suppresses human rights and democratic values in the country, the government of Senegal has once again imposed a mobile internet shutdown amid ongoing political unrest and protests following the sudden postponement of the presidential elections on Saturday, February 3, 2024

Cracking down on protests by shutting down internet access undermines people’s fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Internet blackouts deny people their access to critical information, spur the spread of misinformation, and escalate crises. The government of Senegal must immediately end repression, offline and online, and uphold people’s rights and civil liberties in the country. Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now

The Ministry of Communications, Telecommunications and Digital Economy, in a public statement, indicated that the mobile internet shutdown was necessary to curb the spread of “hateful and subversive messages” on social media, which could potentially threaten public order. This is not the first time the Senegalese authorities have struggled to justify their repressive actions that muzzle free expression in the country.

Millions of people in Senegal have been deliberately disconnected from the rest of the world. In times of heightened political tension, access to the internet is critical and must be upheld at all times to keep people safe and connected with their families and communities. Naro Omo-Osagie, Africa Policy and Advocacy Manager at Access Now

Internet shutdowns are disproportionate and a violation of human rights. The government of Senegal must not normalize the use of shutdowns, and instead find an immediate and lasting solution to the country’s political crises.