The Mauritanian authorities on July 3, 2019, restored Internet access on mobile phones after a 10-day blackout.
The authorities blocked access to the internet on June 23, 2019, as part of a crackdown on protests against the provisional results of the presidential election announced by the country’s electoral commission. The results give the ruling party candidate, Mohamed Ould El-Ghazouani, a first round victory.
The authorities partially restored internet access after five days, before restoring full connectivity on July 3, 2019. While the shutdown of internet was a gross violation of the human rights of Mauritanians, the government had justified the shutdown as a “precautionary measure for security reasons.”
In Mauritania, where the print media have been grounded for more than a year, online news websites and social media are an invaluable source of information. The restoration of the internet is therefore a major boost, especially in the crucial period of Mauritania’s first ever handover of power from one democratically elected leader to another.
While welcoming the restoration of the internet, the MFWA urges the authorities in Mauritania to recognize the importance of the internet as an enabler of democracy and desist from resorting to shutting down the internet when citizens exercise their freedom of expression and assembly rights.
We also urge the incoming President to respect, protect and promote freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and digital rights.