By Staff Reporter
ADDIS ABABA – (BORKENA) – During times of conflict in Ethiopia, an East African country, the internet is either completely or partially shut down. Currently, the service is subject to a strict blockade in the Amhara Region. Despite the government’s claims that shutting down the internet aims to reduce harm and protect national security, studies suggest that “closing down the internet is less effective in preventing riots,” as reported by Deutsche Welle.
The latest report from an international Virtual Private Network (VPN) review website indicates that the economic loss due to the Ethiopian government’s ban will reach $1.59 billion in 2023 alone.
Amha Mekonnin, the CEO of Lawyers for Human Rights Organization, emphasized that the issue of internet closure has become a widely discussed topic. He stated that civic organizations should persist in forwarding repeated requests on the matter and explore the possibility of addressing the issue at the court level in the future.
The growth of Ethiopia’s internet user population, reported to have exceeded 30 million, underscores the rising demand for the service. Nevertheless, the frequent conflicts in the country have led to internet restrictions, significantly impacting freedom of expression.
Legal experts, alongside human rights organizations, have deliberated on issues such as the high pressure and impact resulting from the deliberate shutdown of the internet in Ethiopia, according to Amha Mekonnin, the CEO of the institution. During the discussion, Amha mentioned, “The trend of shutting down basic institutions in our daily life has caused a loss of more than 1 billion dollars in the economic sector.”
The government telecom service provider, Ethio-Telecom, recently presented a report to the Parliament, asserting that the responsibility for the internet service restrictions imposed in Ethiopia extends beyond its jurisdiction. Amha highlighted that the economic loss resulting from the internet shutdown and the deprivation of citizens’ rights will also adversely impact the country’s image.
During a discussion held over the weekend, Amha Mekonnin, the CEO of Legal Experts for Human Rights Organization, mentioned that although it is not the preferred course of action, there were discussions about the possibility of taking the issue to court.
During times of religious tension, heightened militant movements, and government challenges in managing situations within the normal legal system, the Ethiopian government resorts to shutting down the internet, particularly during exam seasons, recognizing that such measures would create difficulties for many people. The internet has recently been shut down due to the war in the Amhara Region, and prior to that, the service was blocked for two years during the conflict in the Tigray Region.
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