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
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
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.

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