internet shutdown #KeepItOn

Somalia elections: authorities must keep internet open, uphold freedom of press

Update: July 28, 2020 — Somalia’s elections have been postponed, with no new date set. Access Now is monitoring the situation, and will continue to push for open, fair, and accessible internet across the country.

July 23, 2020: — As Somalia heads to the polls on Sunday, July 25, for the first in a series of federal elections, Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition are calling on the government to ensure the internet remains open and accessible for all. 

“The #KeepItOn coalition is watching Somalia these elections,” said Felicia Anthonio, Campaigner and #KeepItOn Lead at Access Now. “Our message to Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble is clear: the internet must remain open, accessible, and fair.”

Although there are no confirmed cases of internet shutdowns in Somalia to date, the nation’s long history of censoring press and restricting freedom of speech, as well as unconfirmed accusations of internet blockings, has earned it a place on the #KeepItOn coalition’s radar.

“The people of Somalia deserve fair and free democratic elections following years of endless political turmoil,” said Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy Manager at Access Now. “The government of Somalia must ensure that  internet access remains open and secure for all people to use during the elections period.”

Through an open letter, the #KeepItOn coalition and civil society organizations are calling on  Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and the government to:

  • Publicly assure the people, media organizations, and journalists of the Federal Republic of Somalia that the internet, including social media and other digital communication platforms, will remain open, accessible, inclusive, and secure across Somalia throughout the election and thereafter;
  • Order internet service providers operating in the country to provide everyone with high-quality, secure, and unrestricted internet access throughout the election period and thereafter; and
  • Order internet service providers operating in the country to inform internet users of any potential disruptions and to take all reasonable steps to fix any identified disruptions likely to impact the quality of service they receive.

Somalia’s election period will run over several months. Upper House elections are scheduled for July 25, Lower House elections are scheduled for between August 10 and September 10, and elected parliamentarians will  vote for the President on October 10. The #KeepItOn coalition will monitor internet accessibility throughout this period.

Read the full letter.