CPJ joins call urging Ethiopia to maintain internet access during elections

CPJ joins call urging Ethiopia to maintain internet access during elections

A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on June 21, 2021. – Voters in Ethiopia cast ballots on June 21, 2021 in a delayed national election taking place against the backdrop of war and famine in the northern Tigray region and questions over the poll’s credibility. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

(cpj)–The Committee to Protect Journalists recently joined 46 other human rights, free expression, and technology organizations in a letter calling on Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to guarantee secure and reliable internet access during and following the country’s elections.

In the letter, sent on June 18, members of the #KeepItOn Coalition against internet shutdowns also called on the government to end an ongoing network disruption in the northern state of Tigray, where federal forces have been fighting the former regional government since November 2020.

The letter notes that authorities have imposed internet and social media restrictions at least 20 times in recent years, several of which CPJ has documented.

Ethiopians in parts of the country are voting in federal and regional elections today; in some constituencies, voting has been postponed until September, according to media reports. Some prominent opposition parties have boycotted the vote, according to those reports.

In safety guidance published earlier this month, in English and Amharic, CPJ provides tips for journalists reporting on the Ethiopian elections, including guidance on preparing for internet restrictions.

Read the #KeepItOn Coalition’s letter in full here.