YAOUNDÉ FEBRUARY 14, 2017 (CISA) – UN expert has called on the Cameroonian government to restore internet access to English-speaking parts of the country.
“I am particularly concerned at the tightening of the space for free speech at a time when its promotion and protection should be of the utmost importance,” said Mr Kaye, an independent expert who advises the UN about attacks on free speech.
“A network shutdown of this scale violates international law – it not only suppresses public debate, but also deprives Cameroonians of access to essential services and basic resources,” he said adding that he and the UN were closely monitoring the situation in Cameroon.
Net services in the south-west and north-west regions of the nation were cut on 17 January following protests by people living in the English-speaking regions against what they say is their marginalization by recent government policies.
The shutdown has also hit Cameroon’s digital industries, many of which are based around “Silicon Mountain” near Buea – the south-west’s regional capital.
In 2015, the UN issued a joint declaration which stated that net shutdowns were never justified under human rights law.
Cameroon has two official languages – French and English – but most government and court proceedings are conducted in French.
Cameroon’s linguistic divide dates back to the end of World War One when the League of Nations split the former German colony of Kamerun into zones of French and British administration.
Shortly after independence in 1960, voters from the smaller English zone opted to join Cameroon over neighboring Nigeria.