UN Rights Commission Concerned about Internet Shut Down in Oromia amidst Covid-19

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

Addis Abeba, MArch 27/2020 (Addis Standard) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement today in which the Rights body expressed its concerns about the continued shut down of Internet and telephone lines in western Oromia amidst the ongoing fight against the spread of COVID-19.

“We are very concerned by the continued communications shutdown in parts of Ethiopia, and more broadly call on all countries to ensure that everyone has ready and unhindered access to the internet and phone services, all the more in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Geneva based UN Rights Commission said.

It mentioned Ethiopia imposed an Internet and communications blackout on 7 January, citing security concerns, blocking internet access and phone services in areas under federal military control – namely western Oromia’s Kellem Wellega, West Wellega, and the Horo Gudru Wellega zones. The shutdown coincided with government military operations against the armed wing of the once-banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

The statement reminded that “over the course of the past year, the Ethiopian Government has shut down the internet on a number of occasions, affecting the lives and human rights of the Ethiopians resident in concerned areas: hampering their ability to share and access information or simply to maintain contact with loved ones.”

It also urged other governments with similar track records to “immediately end any and all blanket internet and telecommunication shutdowns. Everyone has the right to receive and impart information.” Ethiopia is not the only country to shut down communications links, the UN said, adding “Blunt measures such as blanket Internet and telecommunications shutdowns, sometimes for prolonged periods, violate the principles of necessity and proportionality and contravene international law.”

Most importantly, the UN Rights commission reiterated that “amidst the COVID-19 crisis, fact-based and relevant information on the disease and its spread and response must reach all people, without exception,” and said authorities, medical professionals and relevant experts must be able to share accurate and vital information with each other and the public about the pandemic.

“It is also essential that information on the disease is readily available in understandable formats and languages, and information is adapted for people with specific needs, including the visually and hearing-impaired, and reaches those with limited or no ability to read or no access to technology,” the statement issued this afternoon said.

Failed Politics and Deception: Behind the Crisis in Western and Southern Oromia

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Comments

  1. Readying your above post, I wonder what is the job description of any human right groups cary on, seeing in our world today a cruel leader collectively punishing innocent people any where in the world and in addition in western and south western Oromia. Whatever job description they have it is too late and too lately for the UN body to address the internet blockage of western Oromia by the government of colonel Abiy Ahimed. Saying that it is a welcoming news for those who affected by this blockage. Personally, my concern right know is not the blockage of internet knowing that colonel Abiy since he came to power and also when he was INSA director what he did to those who opposes to he’s ideas. He might right know sends to those particular areas a COVID-19 patient in the name of meeting to spread this evil germ because already one of his handpicked cadre called 20 million people who reside in western Oromia a number one his government corona virus. We noticed in history of power addicted individuals like Colonel Abiy what they did to the group of people they thought, they were their enemies. I hope the UN human right body and other right groups will shares the concern, most of us have that this government might use this germ to attack western and south western Oromia because they already categorized those particular areas as a number one coronavirus of their power.

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