Paradigm Initiative tackles Liberian govt over internet disruption
By Adekunle Adebayo
A digital rights inclusion group, Paradigm Initiative has taken a swipe at government of Liberia over its move to block social media through disruption of internet in the country.
The group, in a statement signed by its communication officer, Sodiq Alabi and made available to journalists described the act as an attack to the freedom of expression and civil liberties.
“It has come to the knowledge of Paradigm Initiative that popular social media platforms in Liberia such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been blocked and cannot be accessed in Liberia.
“Paradigm Initiative expressly condemns this act and declares that it is an affront to the freedom of expression and assembly amidst other civil liberties which belong to the citizens and residents of Liberia,” the statement said.
It had earlier been reported that the platforms have been blocked in reaction to the ongoing anti-government protests in the capital city of the country, Monrovia.
The protests, tagged ‘Save The State’, were against the high inflation rates and corruption in the country.
However, Article 15 of the Liberia Constitution 1986 states that ‘Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression…’
But Alabi noted that the act of blocking access to the internet or to social media platforms for whatever reason is a gross violation of citizens’ freedom of expression.
He argued that the government of Liberia must be aware of the social, cultural, educative and economic value and relevance of the Internet.
According to him, “Business and human lives thrive not only on communication but on other benefits provided by social media platforms and the internet, and to block access to same is to act tyrant and disregard the liberties of the people.
“Grave and serious legal and historic impacts will be occasioned as a result of the action of the Liberia government.
“With one irrational action, the government of Liberia has successfully abused its citizens and residents of their rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, the right to learn, their right to access the internet and other freedoms and liberties connected to the use of the internet.
“We hereby call on the Liberian government to restore access to all disrupted Internet services, and uphold all human rights of its citizens.”