30 June 2021 Joint Petition on the need to ensure internet availability at all times in Eswatini We, the undersigned organisations, write to urgently appeal to you, Honourable Prime Minister, to ensure that the internet, social media platforms, and all other communication channels are open, secure, and accessible in regardless of the protests that are currently taking place in Eswatini. Our appeal is informed by reports that in the wake of the current pro-democracy protests, the Eswatini government has reportedly ordered network providers, Eswatini Post and Telecommunications, Eswatini MTN and Eswatini Mobile, to turn off internet connectivity. By blocking access to the internet, the Eswatini government is violating fundamental human rights of all citizens of eSwatini, including but not limited to the right to free speech and opinion, access to information and the right to assembly. Further, internet shutdowns disrupt emergency services, cripple economies and restrict the flow of business related information and communications, including internet-based banking services and transactions. The internet and social media platforms play a critical role in enhancing participatory governance in a democratic society through the provision of space for communicating, public debates and citizens’ right to seek and share information on how they are governed. We also note with concern that the current Internet shutdown comes at a time when freedom of the media and that of expression have been deteriorating in Eswatini. Research shows that internet shutdowns and violence go hand in hand. Shutting down the internet during protests only serves to heighten tensions and this is likely to be followed by more violence. By disrupting the free flow of information, shutdowns exacerbate existing tensions, and create space to conceal potential violence and human rights violations perpetrated by both state and non-state actors.