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    International NGOs sue the government of Cameroon for cutting internet in the South West and North West Regions!

    This is the first time a state is being prosecuted for Internet network cuts. The NGOs involved in the case hope to set a precedent, while several African countries have resorted to this practice in recent months to quell protest movements.

    A complaint was filed on January 15 2018 against the government of Cameroon before the Constitutional Council, to challenge the multiple Internet cuts in English-speaking regions that lasted for about a year.

    The Republic of Cameroon, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and Camtel, the national telecommunication company, are named in the letter addressed to the legal authority.

    This complaint was initiated by a Cameroonian NGO, the Network of Human Rights Defenders of Central Africa (Redhac). "We had already solicited the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights through a complaint filed in April 2017 at the time of the first major break. The admissibility of this new complaint can not be disputed, Cameroon is signatory of several international texts which must guarantee the freedom of expression as well as that to inform. Two fundamental rights that these restrictions violate," says Maximilienne Ngo-Mbe, executive director of the NGO.

    After a first cut of 93 days between January and April 2017, a second measure aimed at restricting access to social networks, on at least two of the four main operators, was set up on September 29, 2017 in the English-speaking regions. North West and South West of the country.

    Redhac has been joined by two other NGOs, Internet Without Borders (ISF) and Access Now, which have been working since 19 January to provide legal expertise and gather testimonials on the spot.

    According to Internet Without Borders, these cuts would have created about 39 million dollars of losses for the Cameroonian economy. In Buea, the many start-ups established in this city in southwestern  Cameroon, nicknamed the "Silicon Mountain" , suffered in particular from these restrictions.

    "This is the first time a state has been prosecuted for cutting the Internet. The purpose of this dossier is also to set a precedent, by ensuring that the Internet cuts are recognized as a violation of the constitutional rights of Cameroonians," says Melody Patry of Access Now, citing the examples of the governments of Togo and the DRC, which regularly use this practice at opposition rallies.

    "This disproportionate response by the Cameroonian government to silence the protest must be condemned. The Court has an opportunity to make jurisprudence for future victims of Internet cuts. But we are aware that with the elections approaching and in such a tense context, it will not be easy to bring this complaint to a conclusion," concludes Maximilienne Ngo-Mbe of Redhac.
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