09 Mar 2023

Evading Accountability Through Internet Shutdowns: Trends in Africa and the Middle East

By GPD and Access Now and

Governments around the world frequently use internet shutdowns to disguise and evade accountability for grave human rights violations, including illegitimate grabs for power, state-sanctioned violence against peaceful protestors and even extrajudicial killings of political dissidents.

This paper draws attention to key examples of this happening in recent years across Africa and the Middle East, and identifies common trends and factors driving the use of internet shutdowns in this way.

The paper also makes recommendations for governments, the private sector, regulators and international human rights institutions as to how to call attention to and push back against this trend and ensure that victims of human rights abuses can properly call attention to their plight and access redress. While internet shutdowns themselves constitute a violation of freedom of expression online regardless of context, this has been explored extensively elsewhere and is not the focus of this research paper.

Explore the accompanying Bank of case studies here.